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Celebrating A Celtic Christmas

Updated on August 14, 2018
Celtic Christmas Tree copyright
Celtic Christmas Tree copyright | Source

Celebrating A Celtic Christmas

Many people don't realize that a lot of the customs we use to celebrate Christmas are deeply rooted in Celtic Culture, which is much older than the Christian tradition. Advent Wreath, Holly, Mistletoe and Christmas Trees, read on to learn more about these Celtic Christmas traditions. Maybe you will want to celebrate a Celtic Christmas.

Irish Christmas Blessing

The light of the Christmas star to you
The warmth of home and hearth to you
The cheer and good will of friends to you
The hope of a childlike heart to you
The joy of a thousand angels to you
The love of the Son and God's peace to you.

Are You Celtic?

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The History of Mistletoe

"Here we must mention the reverence felt for this plant by the Gauls. The Druids -- for thusly are their priests named - hold nothing more sacred than the mistletoe and the tree that bears it, as long as that tree be an oak.... Mistletoe is very rarely encountered; but when they do find some, they gather it, in a solemn ritual..."

Pliny the Elder, the Roman natural historian

Mistletoe Traditions

We must look to the Scandinavian custom and to the Norse myths to explain the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe. It has long been regarded as an aphrodisiac and fertility herb. Part of it's mystery to the ancients is that although it is a partial parasite that grows in trees, mistletoe remains green throughout the winter.

"...the Yule-clog and Christmas candle were regularly burnt, and the mistletoe with its white berries hung up, to the imminent peril of all the pretty housemaids."

— Washington Irving, Christmas Eve

A Thistle & Shamrock Christmas Ceilidh

In modern usage, a ceilidh (ˈkeɪli) is a traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing. It can also refer to social dances in England. Originally, a ceilidh was a social gathering of any sort.

A Christmas Ceilidh

Fiona Ritchie includes a nice essay about a typical Christmas ceilidh and a Dundee cake recipe in her liner notes.

This is one of the very few holiday CDs you can play year round. Here is what one review says about this album:

"And for a CD that prominently features the word Christmas in its title, there is almost no holiday music here at all, except for "I Saw Three Ships," a guitar solo by English guitarist John Renbourn, and the Tannahill Weavers' version of "Auld Lang Syne." --Michael Simmons

Ritchie says she chose tunes for Christmas Ceilidh that reminded her of the village holiday socials she attended as a child in Scotland.


Holly - Inviting the Fairies In

No Irish home would be complete without the holly. One charming folklore superstition was that the fairy folk would come in out of the cold to find shelter in the holly branches, so holly was placed all around the house. A spray was placed over the door, on the mantle, around picture frames, among the plates on the cupboard, as candle rings and in other areas of the home.

Holly Image is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1923.

Celtic Advent Observance

Celtic Advent is always Nov. 15 - Dec. 24 (Observance begins at Sunset on Nov. 14). Advent ends on December 24th at sundown, the beginning of Christmas Eve

Celtic Advent Wreath

Traditionally the Advent Wreath are made with evergreen boughs. You can just add some cut evergreen boughs to yours. You might want to place it on the kitchen counter/table where you usually take your meals.

A bronze Celtic Advent Wreath features a rich endless knot design which symbolizes eternity.

"Advent wreaths have their roots in Celtic traditions. The countdown to the celebrations was marked with an evergreen holly wreath or a Celtic rope knot to hold four or five candles. one was lit each week in the lead up to Christmas. Traditionally there were 24 candles, the last of which was lit on the winter solace, bringing most light at the time when the world outside is at its darkest." ~~Felisha Requer

Advent Observance

Do you observe Advent?

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The carol "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" belongs to the Advent Season since it celebrates the expectation of Christ's coming rather than His actual birth.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel - Enya

Ancient Celtic Festival Of Alban Arthuan

Search for the roots of today's Christmas traditions and you will find your way back to the ancient Celtic festival of Alban Arthuan, a festival of peace and a celebration of waxing solar light, held during the Winter Solstice on December 21. Alban Arthuan ("The Light of Arthur"), also is referred to as Yule, Mabon, Jul, Saturnalia, or Christmas.

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.

— Charles Dickens

Christmas in Scotland

"In Scotland the days are VERY short at the end of December. It is dark until around 8.30 am and again it gets dark about 3.30pm in the afternoon. Indeed the shortest day is the 22nd December. The weather is usually quite cold, but not as bitter as other countries. But these short days can be quite depressing. So the Christmas festivities and lights really cheer people up."

When Is The Celtic Christmas?

December 25th is a major holiday in Ireland. Christmas is downplayed in Scotland, some historians have suggested, because of the influence of the Presbyterian Church or Kirk, which viewed Christmas as a "Papist", or Catholic event. People in Scotland tend to celebrate the next Celtic festival of Hogmany, the Scots word for the last day of the year, held on January 1.

A guid New Year to ane an` a` and mony may ye see!

Which is Part of Your Holiday Tradition?

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Orla Fallon's Celtic Christmas - Here We Come A-Wassailing - With David Archuleta, Meav, Mark Wills

Celtic Wheel of the Year

The Celtic Wheel of the Year is a yearly round of celebrations based upon the cycle of the sun as seen in the northern hemisphere. It includes the summer and winter solstices, the spring and fall equinoxes and the four cross-quarter days which fall-half way in between them. Although not unique to the Celtic tradition, these ancient celebrations are best known in the western world through remnants of the Celtic culture (i.e. artifacts, stories, songs, inscriptions, extant practices, historical records, and archaeological evidence).

Celtic Festivals

The many seasonal festivals that had been celebrated for centuries by Celtic tribes found a new home when Pope Gregory embraced the pagan celebrations into the Roman faith, adding them to the Gregorian Calendar of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Celtic Winter Solstice, celebrating the birth of the Sun God became a Christian festival for the birth of the Son of God.

© 2008 patinkc

Have You Celebrated A Celtic Christmas? - I love to hear from my readers

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    • patinkc profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Midwest

      @Virginia Allain: Do you have a lens a about your favorite Celtic Christmas music?

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      5 years ago from Central Florida

      I have a lot of Celtic Christmas CDs that I enjoy listening too at this time of year.

    • GaelicForge profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice info on our Celtic influences! I enjoy reading about the rich cultural heritage enjoyed by the Celtic races all over the world- old world and new world! Kilt On!!!

    • sockii profile image

      Nicole Pellegrini 

      7 years ago from New Jersey

      Nice lens - although not of Celtic roots I enjoyed reading about these traditions.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I am working on some Yule lenses so was pleased to come across this lens which speaks of the winter solstice. Many people practice traditions without knowing where they come from or what they mean. This is a very lovely lens.

    • SaintFrantic profile image


      7 years ago

      You can always can learn something new while you're browsing through the lenses

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 

      7 years ago

      Very interesting angle - hadn't realised which tradition came from where. Thanks for sharing.

    • card lady 2 profile image


      7 years ago from Midwest, USA

      @ZenandChic: Jewelsofawe, thanks for making me aware that I left out info about how to know if you are Celtic. I added a link to my lens Celtic Women.

    • ZenandChic profile image


      7 years ago

      Festive lens! Merry Christmas! I am Irish so I guess I am Celtic. I am not sure how that works.

    • card lady 2 profile image


      7 years ago from Midwest, USA

      @anonymous: Thank you! Happy Hollidays to you, 2muchtrash!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens. A lens that I can learn something new from is always a great lens in my book. I hope you have a fabulous Celtic Christmas!


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