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Showing posts from December, 2007

Irish Genealogy Tours

How To Trace & Visit The Places Of Your Ancestors
Many Celtic Ways requests from the past few months have been requests for help to track down the places of Irish ancestry, to re-unite with the sites of past family.
We will help you get to the former homes of family members, current living relatives that still live nearby so you can hear their stories, and visits to the graves of folks of your past.
We are now going to make visiting your ancestry possible from our new “Tintean Clairseach” centre through offering a day of orientation and providing a hired/rental car with maps and info to help you create your journeys and discoveries into your family, tribal and clan past. Large family groups may even prefer are larger fully transported guided tours.
I will fill in details of itineraries, rates etc. soon
but here are some links to get you started on your homework.
Irish Family Research
Perhaps the most comprehensive research resource with a scale of annual or monthly database access fees b…

The Four Spirits That Became Santa Claus

or the Secret Ingredients Of Coca Cola
Today, many of us think of  Santa Claus and Father Christmas as being the same. Who knew they were two different people?

The name Santa Claus, or "Santa" seems to have come to us from the USA. It was a very rare term when I was a child, but most children today eagerly await the arrival of "Santa".

The name Santa came to the USA through Dutch settlers who told stories about Sinter Klass, the Dutch name for St Nicholas. Of course, these stories included how he gave presents to girls and boys.

The real St Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, in Turkey in the 3rd century AD. It is said he traveled in burgundy red coloured bishop's robes and give gifts to the poor. He was believed to have been particularly kind to children. He is said to have done this with the most secrecy he could as he was very shy. A legend these Dutch settlers told was that he was too shy to knock at the door to give gifts so he climbed a roof to drop coins down a ch…

When Christmas Carols Were Jolly Dances

O’ Come All Ye Faithful
For many of us, Christmas carols remind us of groups of people singing in town squares, maybe the Salvation Army band; the nativity scenes at schools and the special services in churches.

For some people the most important experience of Christmas is the a Midnight Mass at the parish or local church. May people believe that carols are the purest way to celebrate Christ's birth along with sharing friendship and union with those who sing along. This is followed by joyous exchanges of greetings and well wishing before returning home through the "christmassy" winter air for some sleep before the home celebrations begin.

How long has this ritual been with us?

Interestingly, for most of the life of the various species of Christian churches, carols have been condemned and banned by them. The churches condemned caroling as a pagan practice and even in 1647 the Puritans not only banned caroling but also mince pies.

I believe it was about 1800 when caroling sta…

Mince Pies

One of my favourite traditions of mid-winter is Mince Pies
but I do not eat them of the traditional recipe.

Not so long ago the current recipe of dried fruit and sometimes suet was not the standard. What is now the suet ingredient was once ground meat, mince, either of beef, lamb and even venison.

That may seem alarming, but really a mince pie was a treat prepared from a meat pie, rather than meat added to a dessert.

Going back to the medieval times of trade there would have been an active import of tropical fruits which would have also been dried to preserve them through the winter. As meats are and were often cooked with meats in tropical countries it was thought to be exotic to add some fruit to the meat mixtures of meat pies. In some ways this may have been thought of as a Christian celebration as these would have been imported fruits of the Holy Land.

However, before Christian times there was pastry baking and meat preparing. As Apples were regarded as sacred at this time it is likel…

Imbolc Tour 2008

Celtic Ways is now inviting bookings for our Imbolc 2008 tour.
This is a pilgrimage, reverence and celebration of the coming Spring, Bhride, Brigid and Brigit.
Imbolc 2008 is a 7 night, 8 day, itinerary full of beautiful scenery, wonderful company, fun activities along with the healing, protection and connection with Brighid.
This itinerary information will be expanded as soon as possible
here is the core of the itinerary ..   
Monday January 29th
St. Brigid’s Well & Shrine, Faughart, Co. Louth
A welcoming ritual and celebration of the group.
Holy well and shrine where Brigid of Kildare was born.
Tuesday January 30th
Solas Bhride, Kildare
Pilgrimage to the home of St. Brigid
Starting with some time with the Brigidine sisters of Kildare, and then a pilgrimage tour of Brigid’s hearth, wells, cathedral and other sites of Kildare.
Wednesday, January 31st
Brigit’s Garden, Co. Galway
Brigit’s Day Eve
An evening of ritual, music and Brigit’s Cross making within the round house and gardens of Brigit’s Ga…

Newgrange Solstice Dec 21st 2007, archive video

Heritage Ireland are presented a "live" webcast of the winter solstice at Newgrange.There was a beautiful sunrise on December 21st, but on December 22nd, the actual solstice morning there were clouds and showers. Even the 21st was touch and go as there was a mist and the initial sunrise was faded to a pink. The sun quickly cut through the mist to provide a spectacular experience of sunrise at Newgrange.More than 300,000 people logged in for the live experience but now you can view the archive at this link

"In Comes I" : The Mummer's Play

Image
First, The Movie
I hope you find this clip interesting, and then I explain more about these wonderful ancient traditions, still enjoyed by many during this season, with the article below ……
This clip is an excerpt from a wonderful documentary movie, "Augha Killy Maude, Men Of Straw" who are based at the Aughakillymaude below the Knockninny "fairy" Mountain, beside Lough Erne in Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Most of our Celtic Ways tours include at least a visit or even a session at their wonderful centre ....

From A Universe Long, Long Ago ….
Those of you who have toured with Celtic Ways tours will know that our tours are not merely a sight-seeing and ancient site-seeing tours but also explore the traditions and rituals that connect and entwine us with nature and its seasons.
The “Celtic Year”, as we now call it, has 8 points of observance, 4 sun alignment days and 4 fire festival days.
The festive days are Samhain, Imbolc, Beltaine and Lughnasa (or Lammas)
The alignm…

Seven Eras of Tradition in Ireland

Though eras of tradition do not have a defined beginning and end we find that many of our travellers enter a comfort zone when we provide evolving traditions as a set of ages.
The dates we provide here should generally be regarded as extremely approximate except for the “cursing of Tara” in 463 AD which presented quite a defined turn in traditions.
Tradition Era 1 : Man Separates From Nature, Then Proposes Marriage To It. 
6000 BC until about 1500 BC -
It was around 6000 BC when a long ice age melted fast and climate evolved into around 4000 years of global warming. What is now Ireland became divided from Britain by the creation of what is now the Irish Sea and Britain divided from the European continent by the North Sea and eventually the English Channel as it widened from being a river to being a sea.
At 6000 BC the people were hunter-gatherers relying on nature to provide their needs as required. These people were as human as we are today and with the same level of intelligence. The big…