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Ancient Celtic Culture - Tribes And Customs

Updated on November 8, 2011

Celtic culture is difficult to define. It's fair to say that the Celts weren't an ancient culture, in the same way that the Egyptians or Persians were. The easiest way of describing the Celts is by way of imagining various tribes, scattered across Europe, that were bonded (loosely) by a similar language, customs and traditions.

Celtic Culture

 

The Celtic culture was largely based upon tradition, handed down from generation to generation. Each tribe, or clan, had it's own way of retelling truths, myth and legend. So saying, modern day scholars have had to glean various facts from ancient scribes and articfacts unearthed during archelogical expeditions.

The Celts as a whole were not scribes or scholars. They were, in the main, warriors, metal-workers and farmers. The written word was something they paid little attention to, preferring instead to work their land, wage wars and observe the edicts of their pagan Gods - delivered by Druids and various other forms of leadership.

Celtic Society

 

Celtic Life

Celtic Tribes

Celtic society was made up of clan leaders (usually a King), Druids, warriors, farmers and metal workers. Although Celtic women weren’t afforded an equal footing to the men of their tribe/s, they were given a certain freedom of choice in specific areas of tribal life.

The Celts observed four main religious periods during a twelve month period:

  • Imbolc – related to Spring, probably the lambing season
  • Beltaine – this was related to fire (or possibly heat) and fertility, celebrated at the start of the Summer season
  • Lúnasa – celebrated at the start of Autumn and related to the harvesting of crops
  • Samhain – no real evidence as to why this festival was celebrated (in November) but it may have been either viewed as the onset of the Winter period or perhaps the start of the Celtic new year

Celtic tribes lived in hill forts, often fortified by purposely dug earth walls (archaeological evidence supports this theory), with a collection of hut type buildings used for the purpose of housing individuals and/or families.

It was likely that they traded with other cultures, predominantly in various types of semi-precious and precious metals. Due to their distinct lack of the written word, much of the Celtic way of life either remains a mystery or the subject of much conjecture.

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    • profile image

      BookFlame 7 years ago

      a little historical perspective would have been helpful, vis-a-vis fall of the Roman Empire, the Dark Ages, the Anglo-Saxons, the rise of the monastic tradition and so on.

    • Laura du Toit profile image

      Laura du Toit 7 years ago from South Africa

      So glad to read a hub of yours again. Almost thought you had stopped writing! As I know absolutely nothing about the Celtic Culture it was a very informative hub for me. Did not miss the historical perspective at all.

      Great hub!

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 7 years ago

      Book Flame - there will be. This is the second of several more hubs. I decided to spilt one very big hub into a fair few smaller, more contained ones ;)

      Laura - no, I hadn't given up. I've just adapted to my current life-style, therefore I have very limited time to do anything other than travers the Yorkshire Moors at the moment!

      And thankyou ;)

    • profile image

      Justine76 7 years ago

      Have you read the Marion Zimmer Bradley books, "The lady of Avalon" and "The Mists of Avalon?" They are pretty interesting fictional stories dealing with Celts, Druids the beginning of Christianity and all that. If you haven't read them, you may like them? Off to read the next hub. Hope your well these days. :)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Great hub once again. I'm fascinated with the Celt era and therefore have and will read whatever comes across my path.

      And yes The Lady of Avalon and The Mists of Avalon are great reads, really enjoyable just like Justine mentioned.

      Greetings Froggy from far off Canada

      Zsuzsy

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 7 years ago

      Justine - I've read the Lady Of Avalon ... It's more 'Arthurian' than Celt but I guess much of the legends surrounding Arthur et al are inherently Celtic by nature. Merlin ... ?! And I'm well enough, thankyou :)

      Zsuzby - hey and thankyou! Hopefully there will be a few more. Breaking down the Celts ended up being easier than one huge HubTome ;)

    • profile image

      Justine76 7 years ago

      :) Merlin....well, now that you mention it.... lol...when I read it I felt it had a bit more history, if you can call it that, about the various religions then most knightly type tales.

    • wesleycox profile image

      wesleycox 7 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      Excellent topic of discussion. I think the reason I like it so much is the fact that I am half Celtic Scottish and Irish. Very informative as well.

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 7 years ago

      Justine - Nothing wrong with the Lady Of Avalon :) Great book!

      wesley - I shall be exploring the Britons soon enough. Probably another like the above. And thankyou :)

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 7 years ago from West By God

      I love anything that has to do with Welsh and they were CELTS too, just you don't hear a lot of that but mostly the Irish and Scottish. They were hushed. I have some of that on my hub (and I am not promoting for the sake of making more money, just spreading knowledge), http://hubpages.com/hub/My-LEWIS-Genealogy

      There is also a link near the top of the page for another hubbers pge about Wales and it is very good too.

      I have the book Mysts of Avalon, seen the movie a few times, seen Merlin and Arthur a few times and also have some books that are written in Celtic (Welsh) that I can't read about the history of the Welsh Celts.

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 7 years ago

      Lady - I enjoy the Arthurian legends too. I have other Celtic hubs in the pipeline. I will publish another later, though yet again, it's grown bigger than it was intended to be.

      This Celt business is difficult to contain. Much like they were I should imagine ;)

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 7 years ago from West By God

      Yeah. When I was doing my genealogy hub it was or has gotten really more of the hub than the genealogy part.

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 7 years ago

      Genealogy is a big subject and an interesting one to boot. Can't fault you (or anyone) getting into the tracing of ancestors :)

    • knell63 profile image

      knell63 7 years ago from Umbria, Italy

      As a Welsh speaking Celt, I can say we are still very much alive and like our other cousins in Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, Isle of Man and Breton still writing the Celtic legends. The Mabinogion is a great Welsh book full of folktales. The old Welsh history is a verbal one, of bards and storytellers, The Mabinogion is full of their history. Good to see people showing interest in the Celts though.

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 7 years ago

      knell - good to know you're a native welsh speaker. And I'm well aware that the Celts are still alive and kicking. I just haven't got round to modern day clans as yet. But I will :)

    • keira7 profile image

      keira7 7 years ago

      I have learn a lot about the Celts. Thank you very much for the great hubs. God Bless.:)

    • darkside profile image

      Glen 7 years ago from Australia

      When are you doing one on Celtic Art?

    • frogdropping profile image
      Author

      Andria 7 years ago

      I wrote it last night. I need to finish it though. Clicked publish instead of done editing. I had a huge migraine though and wasn't watching what I was doing by the end :)

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      snuggle bug 5 years ago

      this rocks !! this has almost all the information i need!!! yeah

    • profile image

      snuggle bug 5 years ago

      hey auther do you have a child andn if you do does he/she read lemony snickets

    • profile image

      snuggle bug 5 years ago

      hey darkside how come u don't type any thing anymore !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!r u dead or something

    • cfin profile image

      cfin 4 years ago from The World we live in

      Maybe include the modern Celtic nations and the remaining effect. How they moved to the islands over time and resisted the roman empire. After the roman empire they cleaned up a lot of Europe's problems. (Ireland, Scotland, Wales)

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      kelly 2 years ago

      Mae hwn yn safle gwych i ymchwilio ar gyfer eich arholiadau neu astudiaethau ar

      gwahanol ddiwylliannau

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