May Day & Beltane Celebrations

Play on the Green

When Inverkeithing Arts Initiative decided to hold our next event(s) on the 1st and 2nd May 2015, our thoughts turned to May Day, and traditional celebrations which mark the changing of the seasons. 

In Scotland, May Day was usually celebrated as the Celtic Beltane’s Day, a fire festival, still celebrated on Edinburgh’ Calton Hill, the purpose of which was to celebrate the changing of the seasons from spring to summer, and encourage crops to grow, while girls rose early to wash their faces in the dawn dew. We don’t think we can introduce real fire to the celebrations (!) but we’re thinking it’s a great excuse for us all to celebrate the fresh summer days, the budding of nature, and to have some fun outdoor activities for children (if possible).

We also found, from the book ‘Inverkeithing & North Queensferry Through Time’ by Eric Simpson and George Robertson, that the garden area next to the Civic Centre and behind the Friary was once known as ‘the children’s playfield’. We thought this was appropriate as we plan to have our daytime event on 2nd May at the Civic Centre.

This made us begin to wonder if Inverkeithing has ever had Beltane/May Day celebrations, after all, it is one of the places in Scotland which still celebrates the Lammas Day on 1st August, with a procession, a Lammas Queen and the Hat and Ribbon Race.

For lots more interesting information about traditions in Scotland, visit

If anyone has any reminiscences of the past in Inverkeithing, or ideas for the May events, please do post on Facebook or get in touch by email:

(This comes from the blog at

images The Children’s Playfield, Inverkeithing (pre-1950s)

images-9  In more modern times


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