Harpist Anne Roos

Music Is The Spirit Of The Season

Dec 1, 2020

As we begin the holiday season in this very different kind of year, I want to look back at the Celtic traditions that have become a part of our modern day Christmastime.  Sometimes looking back gives us clarity as we look forward, and the people who inhabited pre-Christian Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England, left a legacy of tradtions, songs, foods and festivals celebrating the time of year we now call Christmas.  Even after these people converted to Christianity, their beliefs and traditions influenced the way they celebrated Christmas that lasts through today!

As we travel back in time to experience what this time of year may have been like to these spirited people, I thought it was a good idea to set the tone of our journey.  Music has alweys been a huge part of my best memories, and I think many of us can hear a song and immediately associate a memory to it.  The Holidays are filled with traditional music and classic melodies that can take a grown up like me (when I hear Alvin and the Chipmunks) back to my childhood unable to sleep on Christmas Eve because Santa was surely about to drop down my fireplace with a bag of toys!  Now as an adult, I have an appreciation for some of the more traditional songs, even though I may not know their orgins.  Some of these songs illicit strong comforting emotions in me, without knowing exactly why. To me, music is the thread that holds the traditions and memories together.

Songs like Coventry Carol, Wexford Carol and The Holly And The Ivy bring vivid images of families keeping warm throughout the cold Midwinter nights huddled around the blazing hearth of a stonewalled home with a snow covered thatch roof. The landscape is covered in white and the trees are bare and grey.  Holly is hung on the door, one of the only plants to remain vibrant and green, with its beautiful red berries shimmering in the firelight.  We will explore more throughout the month about this romantic version of what life was like back in the centuries when Christianity was becoming the religion of Ireland, but for now, I want to set the stage with music that originated in the lands of the Celts.

I love listening to playlists on Spotify such as Celtic Christmas or Winter Solstice.  The music just seems to fit the spirit of the season for me better than the classic standards and modern hits.  Of course I listen to those too, especially when gathered with friends, but when I want to experience the season in a personal and intimate way, this music touches my soul.  I’ll leave a list of my favorites at the end of this post.  I encourage you to grab a warm hot toddy, a glass of mulled wine, a cup of egg nog or a holiday ale, and sit by a roaring fire and just listen to the melodies of the Midwinter through the songs inspired by the harshness of long cold nights and the hope of a rebirth of the sun as winter moves on and spring approaches.  These songs can be found on all formats from Spotify to Pandora to iTunes.

I also encourage you to find local musicians who play celtic music or instruments and support them this holiday season.  One of my favorites is a harpist I met last year about this time named Anne Roos.  She plays a Celtic Harp and her music will touch your soul.  You can find her at http://harpistanneroos.com and on Instagram and Facebook.  She has virtual concerts throughout the month, such as the Harp Music Sunday in the Bakeshop, where she will play some holiday favorites while her husbands bakes some delicious holiday treats!  For more info click this link: Get Tickets

If you are enjoying this series on Midwinter, please consider sharing my site as well as following me on Instagram and Liking me on Facebook.

Nollaig Shona Duit

Russ Reyes

Resources

Windham Hill Winter Solstice Series

Windham Hill Celtic Chriwstmas

Celtic Christmas Playlist Spotify

Celtic Harp Christmas on Spotify

Anne Roos at harpistanneroos.com

In Praise of Christmas by Loreena McKennitt

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