Bealtaine Superstition in Ireland

Bealtaine has always been my favorite part in the wheel of the year celebrations not just because I was born in the month of May but because there is so much going on. The tree's are green, the bluebells are in full bloom throughout native woodland area's and natures magic fully awake!
Its a time of celebration for everyone and signifies the end of the dark half of the year. The weather has usually picked up by May with the arrival of warmer temperatures and thats always a good thing.
Bealtaine in Ireland was always celebrated with great gaiety but also with great superstition. The faeries ' malevolence was at its height. Dairy farmers would worry about the faeries obsession with corrupting anything associated with dairy production. At milking time, the cow was blessed and a red rag or a garland of flowers was tied to its tail. A mountain ash branch was always thought to offer protection to cows milk. Butter stealing and the inability to churn butter were feared. There was a procession around the farm on May Eve and holy water was sprinkled copiously.
It was believed that May was a liminal time when the presence of the other world was closer and magic was at it strongest from sunset on May Eve to dawn on May Day. Flowers played a large role in the appeasing of the spirits and offered protection. Flowers like marsh marigolds, branches of gorse in full yellow flower were tied together and hung above doors.
It was also believed that bringing the white flowers of the hawthorn into your home brought bad luck. The May Bough was made from sycamore leafs and was the preferred Bough where I'm from in Cork it was thought to guard against bad luck. Another tradition in parts of Ireland to celebrate Bealtaine was the making of a May Baby or Babóg na Bealtaine, made from straw similar to the St Brigits Day Brídeog. The May day custom was for a man and his wife dressed in straw costumes to dance around the doll while the music played with laughter and merriment amongst the crowd all while money was collected. I believe this was certainly a fertility ritual of sorts to seek the blessings of the May spirits.
In the UK they dance around May Poles but in Ireland the people would historically decorate chosen tree's or bushes with ribbons, posies and colorful egg shells from Easter and would dance around them in celebration.

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