Superstitions associated with Beltaine or Roodmas Festival
Many superstitions are associated with Beltaine. Here are some, just to name a few:
Between sunset on May Eve and the dawn of May Day, one should stay
close to home and never sleep outdoors. If you must be out and about,
a piece of iron in the pocket might give some protection, as will a
spent cinder from the hearth, or a sprig of mountain ash.
Many people leave the faeries an offering of food and drink either on
their doorstep, or at a fort, lone bush or other fae dwelling.
A favorite prank of the good folk is to cause people to loose their way
by bringing down a mist. One way to protect against this is to wear
your coat inside out. This disguise will confuse them and might allow
you to escape.
Care should be taken not to keep anything you find of value on the
roadway or anywhere. Best of all, don't pick it up. But, if you wish
to be neighborly, you should place the article on a fence, gate or bush
so that the rightful owner can find it again.
The first water taken from the well on May Day was variously known as
'the top of the well' or 'the luck of the well.' In evil hands this
water could do great harm; but in the hands of the rightful owner, it
brought luck, protection and healing.
A child born on May Day has the gift of being able to see the faeries -
but it was believed the child would not live a long life. Animals born
on this day were also sure to be weaklings.
If a girl went out into the garden before sunrise on May 1st, she
could find out the name of her future spouse by taking up the first
snail or slug she finds. This is put on a plate sprinkled with flour.
A cabbage leaf is placed on top and left until after sunrise. Then,
according to the superstition, she will find the initials or her lover
traced in the flour.
The call of the cuckoo is ominous - to hear it on your right brings
luck; on the left, ill fortune; from a church yard meant a death in the
family, and before breakfast, a hungry year.