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The Celts & Our Roots

February 8, 2014 - Ernest Hohmeyer
We know the country owes a lot to European immigrants.

THEY may owe a lot to the “Celts.”

Celtic Traditions

Today, when we think about Celtic themes, music jumps out at us. But it means so much more to us.

“Celtic” itself has historic connotations and depending on how far back you go there appears to be a connection to the European Alps.

According to the “Public’s Library and Digital Archive” (www.ibiblio.com) “Who Were the Celts” their battles with the Roman Empire are legendary and they were innovators in many military tactics later used by the Romans.

Tough and Colorful

With little records to go by “Who are the Celts” references Roman historians including Diodorus (Diodorus Siculus, History.) who writes “Their aspect is terrifying...They are very tall in stature, with rippling muscles under clear white skin.”

He goes on “The way they dress is astonishing: they wear brightly coloured and embroidered shirts, with trousers called bracae and cloaks fastened at the shoulder with a brooch…”

Diodorus describes further how the Celts “wear bronze helmets with figures picked out on them, even horns…” and in battle “Weird, discordant horns were sounded…”

These styles of helmets were later used by the Romans.

Celtic or “Keltic”?

In a further article in “ibiblio” titled “What is a Celt and who are the Glasgow Celtics?” the term is derived from the Greek word “Galatai or Keltoi by the Greeks, terms meaning barbarian.”

By the way this thing about “Celtic” and “Keltic” may be due according to this article because “no soft c exists in Greek…”

Innovators

“Britain Express” (www.BritanExpress.com) one of the “largest non-government sources of information about the UK” according to their web site talks about the “The Iron Age” as the “age of the "Celt’ in Britain.”

This article “Celtic Britain (The Iron Age - 600 BC - 50 AD)” by David Ross, Editor states that the “concept of a ‘Celtic’ people is a modern and somewhat romantic reinterpretation of history.” Ross continues that “The ‘Celts’ were warring tribes who certainly wouldn’t have seen themselves as one people at the time.”

The “Celts” who didn’t come to England in any one great invasion according to Ross, were responsible for bringing “iron working to the British Isles.”

Other tidbits by Ross:

Agriculture The advent of the iron plough “constituted an agricultural revolution all by themselves...” Because of their weight it took big team to pull it so turning became arduous. Thus, their fields “tended to be long and narrow, a pattern that can still be seen in some parts of the country today.”

Women Something else that may have helped to lay the historic roots of independence and equal rights, women according to Ross were “technically equal to men, owned property, and could choose their own husbands. They could also be war leaders…”

Language Celtic history is found in oral renditions. Thus the arts became important and hence music.

Druids What is interesting here, despite the power of the king, the Druids had their own independent system and according to Ross was “a sort of glue holding together Celtic culture.” They had their own educational institutions, were “healers” and “arbitrators” and had “the right to speak ahead of the king in council…”

Interesting…

Roots of Halloween?

And while we are having fun on this Celtic theme did you know that while you may think of Saint Patrick’s Day, there is also a connection to Halloween?

History.com under the topic “Halloween” states this holiday is “thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.”

Some of these Celtic traditions were included in the eighth century announcement by Pope Gregory III who “designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day…” History.com further notes “The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween.”

Impact

The Celts have quite the history, having spread over much of what we know as Europe, bringing innovation such as iron and practicing modern elements of society such as equality.

According to Eupedia.com, a site about European travel, trivia and history, their post “Interesting Facts about the Ancient Celts” described them as “immensely rich.” Their use of gold “Julius Caesar's main reason to conquer Gaul…”

Eupedia also talks about their development of a road system before the Romans, calendars which were extremely accurate, military prowess that resulted in leaders such as Alexander the Great “eagerly signing a peace treaty with them…”

The Celts are an important part of our history.

However, here is the most important one I discovered:

Red Hair?!

Hey, according to the Eupedia.com post, the Celts, “… are believed to have spread the genes for red hair.”

Is that where my red-headed wife came from? No wonder she runs the show…

Enjoy winter!

 
 

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