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Beltane

"Beannaich, a Thrianailt fhioir nach gann, (Bless, O Threefold true and bountiful,)
Mi fein, mo cheile agus mo chlann, (Myself, my spouse and my children,)
Mo chlann mhaoth's am mathair chaomh 'n an ceann, (My tender children and their beloved mother at their head,)
Air chlar chubhr nan raon, air airidh chaon nam beann, (On the fragrant plain, at the gay mountain sheiling,)
Air chlar chubhr nan raon, air airidh chaon nam beam. (On the fragrant plain, at the gay mountain sheiling.)

Gach ni na m' fhardaich, no ta 'na m' shealbh, (Everything within my dwelling or in my possession,)
Gach buar is barr, gach tan is tealbh, (All kine and crops, all flocks and corn,)
Bho Oidhche Shamhna chon Oidhche Bheallt, (From Hallow Eve to Beltane Eve,)
Piseach maith, agus beannachd mallt, (With goodly progress and gentle blessing,)
Bho mhuir, gu muir, agus bun gach allt, (From sea to sea, and every river mouth,)
Bho thonn gu tonn, agus bonn gach steallt. (From wave to wave, and base of waterfall.)"

~ Am Beannachadh Bealltain (The Beltane Blessing), traditional

Happy Beltane and May Day! The bright greens of leafy trees and rich colours of summer flowers are woven into the Craobh tartan ('tree' in Scottish Gaelic) and marks the importance of trees and flowers for the festival of Beltane (Latha Bealltainn), historically observed throughout Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. Marking the beginning of summer when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures, Beltane rituals included the decoration of May bushes, the strewing of flowers, and the ritual cutting and burning wood from thorn trees (particularly associated with the 'aos si' the spirits or fairies which were believed to be particularly active during Beltane and Samhain), to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. Bonfires were kindled as their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. Doors, windows, byres and livestock would typically be decorated with white or yellow May flowers such as primrose, rowan, hawthorn, gorse, hazel, and marsh marigolds. Many types of trees and woody shrubs in the Celtic nations were traditionally considered to be sacred, whether as symbols, or due to medicinal properties, or because they are seen as the abode of particular nature spirits, including the oak, ash, birch, rowan, willow, alder, white-thorn, hazel, and others. 🌳 🔥 🌼

May 1

Designed by Claire Hunter, the Craobh tartan is intended to capture the spirit and beauty of Scotland's wild woodlands. The design represents the rich tapestry of the forest with streams, flora and fauna adding colour and vibrancy.


The mountain ash, rowan, or quicken tree is particularly prominent in Scottish and Irish folklore.


There are several recorded instances in which people refused to cut an ash, even when wood was scarce, for fear of having their own cabins consumed with flame. The ash tree itself is thought to have been used in May Day (Beltaine) rites. 


The ash also gives its name to the letter N in the ogham alphabet as part of the Old Irish word nin. Together with the oak and thorn, the ash tree forms a magical trilogy in fairy lore. 


Ash seedpods may be used in divination, and the wood has the power to ward off fairies, especially on the Isle of Man. And in Scotland, children were given the astringent sap of the tree as a medicine and as a protection against witch-craft.


The medieval Welsh poem Cad Goddeu (The Battle of the Trees) is believed to contain Celtic tree lore, possibly relating to the crann ogham, the branch of the ogham alphabet where tree names are used as mnemonic devices.


Ogham is an Early Medieval alphabet used primarily to write the early Irish language in the 4th to 6th centuries and later the Old Irish language through the 9th century.  Out of twenty letter names, eight are the names of trees, which has led the alphabet to be referred to as the Celtic tree alphabet. Ogham inscriptions are found in Ireland and Wales, with a few in southwest England (Devon and Cornwall), the Isle of Man, and Scotland, including Shetland and a single example from Silchester in England. They were mainly employed as territorial markers and memorials (grave stones).


For more about the Ogham alphabet, click the trees in flower.