Monday 1st May is May Day and Beltane - a Celtic word meaning 'fires of Bel' (Bel was a Celtic and Gaelic Deity). It is a fire festival that celebrates the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year. Celtic festivals often tied in with the needs of the community.
In springtime, at the beginning of the farming calendar, everybody would be hoping for a fruitful year for their fields and hence also their families. Beltane rituals would often include courting: for example, young men and women collecting blossoms in the woods and lighting fires in the evening.
These rituals would often lead to matches and marriages, either immediately in the coming summer or autumn. Beltane is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals; along with Lughnasadh, Samhain and Imbolc - as shown on the Pagan Wheel on the right, courtesy of Shutterstock (licence paid).
Monday 1st May was the annual Roman Festival of Bona Dea. In Roman mythology, Bona Dea (literally "the good goddess") was the goddess of fertility, healing, virginity, and women. She was the daughter of the god Faunus and was associated with supplying medicinal healing herbs in her temple garden. Bona Dea was also invoked for freedom from slavery; many of her worshippers were freed slaves and plebeians, and many were women seeking aid in sickness or for fertility. This Festival was celebrated by women only!