How We Keep Beltane

Celebrated as May Day, Beltane, the first day of Celtic summer, or when most spring flowers are blooming, May 1st is a special time for many of us. I remember having maypoles in the California, US public schools in 1960s; I realized people may not know about maypoles or other traditions now.

I’ve also been lucky enough to see how we celebrate the first of May in the United states. So here is a gallery showing how we keep this holiday now – celebrations, observances, and music included. I’m adding to this page and gallery as I find more to share.


A tall wooden pole placed upright into the ground and festooned with many long ribbons, maypoles are used for dances most commonly on May Day. Maypoles are easy to make, and were once a common springtime childhood activity when I was growing up. Happily, they seem to be common in Renaissance Faires and also making a comeback elsewhere.

Pagan Beltane celebration with Maypole in a public park in Sacramento, California. (D. Wiyninger, 2005)


Sierra Madrone Grove (ADF), Sacramento, CA, US April 26, 2015

 Jack in the Green-

In England, May Day parades traditionally included a man dressed head to foot in garlands of flowers and leaves; now the Jack in the Green has been revived in parts of Britain. I saw this example of a Jack in the Green at a Texas renaissance fair (held yearly in April and May). While not part of a parade per se, there are various May Day activities at this and other fairs. Many Pagans associate ‘Jack’ with the Green Knight, the Green Man, Puck, and related gods of green nature.

Jack in the Green at Scarborough Renaissance Festival, Waxahachie, Texas. (D. Wiyninger, April 12, 2014)


The beginning of May is celebrated as the festival of Beltane by many Pagans and Druids who follow the Wheel of the Year. Considered to be the beginning of Celtic Summer, it is a happy time and when the veils between the worlds thin. People gather with offerings, thanks, prayers, and often maypoles or need-fires.

Beltane altar, Sierra Madrone Grove ADT, Sacramento CA, US April 26, 2015