May Day or Beltane, while it may be translated to other cultures or traditions is based on Celtic history and traditions. In Celtic tradition, the two greatest festivals of the solar year are Samhain and Beltane, celebrations of death and rebirth, respectively. Love is in the air at Beltane. In traditional (Celtic) Wiccan rituals, we celebrate the union between the Great Mother and her young Horned God. Their coupling brings fresh new life on Earth.

Fertility Sabbat

Some form of this Great Rite is enacted on this sabbat in many modern pagan circles. The Great Rite symbolizes the sacred marriage and/or sexual union, of the Lord and Lady. Often the rite is performed symbolically by a male and female who place a knife (a phallic symbol) into a chalice (a female or yonic symbol). In Old Europe, whole villages would celebrate May Day by slipping away into the woods for indiscriminate sexual encounters. Any children conceived during this occasion were known as “merry-begots” and were considered children of the gods. These “greenwood marriages” were acts of sympathetic magick believed to have a positive effect on their crops, animals, and themselves.