What is a Celtic

The term “Celtic” refers to a group of people, cultures, languages, and traditions historically associated with the Celts. The Celts were an ancient Indo-European people who spread across Europe in various waves, particularly from the Iron Age through the early medieval period. Here’s a detailed look at what “Celtic” encompasses:

Historical and Cultural Background

  1. Ancient Celts:
  • The Celts are believed to have originated in the Hallstatt culture (circa 800-450 BCE) in Central Europe and later spread to regions including present-day Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany (in France), Cornwall (in England), and Galicia (in Spain).
  • They were known for their skills in metalwork, particularly in iron and gold, their distinctive art styles, and their warrior culture.
  1. Celtic Languages:
  • The Celtic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family. They are divided into two groups:
    • Goidelic (Gaelic): Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx.
    • Brythonic: Welsh, Breton, and Cornish.
  • These languages are still spoken to varying extents in their respective regions today, with efforts underway to revive and preserve them.
  1. Celtic Religion and Mythology:
  • The Celts practiced a polytheistic religion with a pantheon of gods and goddesses. Their spiritual leaders were known as druids, who played key roles in religious ceremonies, legal matters, and education.
  • Celtic mythology is rich with tales of heroism, magic, and the supernatural, including famous cycles such as the Ulster Cycle, the Fenian Cycle, and the Mabinogion.

Modern Celtic Identity

  1. Celtic Nations:
  • Today, the term “Celtic” is often used to refer to the modern descendants of the ancient Celts and their cultural regions, known as the Celtic nations. These include:
    • Ireland
    • Scotland
    • Wales
    • Brittany (France)
    • Cornwall (England)
    • Isle of Man
    • Galicia (Spain) is also sometimes included due to its historical Celtic connections.
  1. Celtic Festivals and Traditions:
  • Modern Celtic festivals celebrate cultural heritage through music, dance, and traditional crafts. Examples include the Pan Celtic Festival, the National Eisteddfod of Wales, and the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Brittany.
  • Traditional Celtic music, with instruments like the fiddle, harp, bagpipes, and tin whistle, remains a vibrant part of the cultural identity in these regions.
  1. Celtic Art and Symbols:
  • Celtic art is known for its intricate designs, including knotwork, spirals, and crosses. These motifs are often seen in jewelry, manuscripts (such as the Book of Kells), and tattoos.
  • Common symbols include the Celtic cross, the triskele (triple spiral), and the Claddagh ring (a symbol of love, loyalty, and friendship).

Influence and Legacy

  1. Historical Influence:
  • The Celts had significant interactions with other ancient civilizations, including the Romans, Greeks, and various Germanic tribes. These interactions influenced the cultural and political landscapes of Europe.
  • Roman conquest and the spread of Christianity led to the decline of Celtic pagan practices, but many cultural elements were preserved or adapted within Christian contexts.
  1. Contemporary Influence:
  • Celtic culture has had a lasting impact on literature, music, and art globally. The revival movements in the 19th and 20th centuries, such as the Celtic Revival and the Gaelic Renaissance, helped to rekindle interest in Celtic heritage and traditions.


The term “Celtic” encompasses a rich and diverse heritage that spans ancient history and modern culture. From the ancient Celts’ influence on European history to the vibrant traditions of the contemporary Celtic nations, the Celtic identity continues to be celebrated and preserved in many forms. Whether through language, art, music, or festivals, the legacy of the Celts remains a vital and cherished part of the cultural landscape in Europe and beyond.


  • “The Celts: A History from Earliest Times to the Present” by Bernhard Maier
  • “Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales” by Alwyn Rees and Brinley Rees
  • “The Celtic World” edited by Miranda Green
  • Official websites of the Celtic nations’ cultural organizations and festivals

the authorD. Trump