The event of summer's beginning, the festival took place on April 30th.
As the day midway between the spring solstice and summer equinox, it signified the beginning of summer. Cattle were sent out to their summer pastures and rituals were conducted for protection and fertility.
The flames of the day, Beltane from its Celtic roots, were believed to hold special powers. Bonfires were kindled on this day and their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The people and their cattle would walk around the bonfire, or between two bonfires, and sometimes leap over flames or embers.
Household fires would be extinguished and then re-lit from the Beltane bonfire. Doors, windows, byres and the cattle themselves would be decorated with yellow May flowers as a symbol of that fire.