In the old days, people in the Scottish Highlands observed an annual smack-down between mountain hares, who boxed and scratched each other til one hare ran away. The contest seemed crazy to humans, hence the birth of the well-known phrase. Everyone assumed it was two male hares battling for breeding privileges with the local doe (a female hare). Here’s a video of two mountain hares (in their brown spring coats) in frenzied battle:
Turns out it’s actually a battle between a male hare and a FEMALE hare. She’s weeding out the wimp hares herself, through combat. Only those bucks strong enough to last the bruising round will be considered a worthy mate for her. Female hares are receptive for only a short time, making the local bucks mad to mate–and willing to get punched around to prove their worth.
Do you have a friend who needs to get right with Jamie Fraser?
Sooner or later, we all need to “get right” with somebody, usually God or an in-law. Friends who haven’t explored Outlander, the book or Outlander, the television series, however, need to get in the right relationship with James Fraser, his wife Claire and the other characters of Diana Gabaldon’s special Highland world.
War Chieftain Dougal MacKenzie takes it personally, ye ken.
The second half of Starz’ Outlander series debuts April 4th and it looks to be a stunning finish to Season One. There’s no better time than now to set your friends on the true tartan path with the help of the following Outlandish goodies.
Season One, Volume One of the Starz series, Outlander, will be available on DVD March 3, 2015. This 2 DVD set contains the first 8 episodes of the series based on the book, with several bonus features. Click HEREto pre-order the set and catch up with the series.
Finally, here are a few recent trailers from Starz to whet your appetite until Outlander returns on April 4, 2015:
Snagging some of the purple, green and gold beads thrown by passing floats has been a highlight of New Awlans’ (honey, don’t say N’awlins--that’s the tourist way) Mardi Gras parades for years.
Why, young women have even been known to —read no further if you are easily agitated by licentious behavior— bare their breasts just to get those plastic necklaces and fake doubloons.
Well, fair’s fair, I guess.
If you absolutely, positively MUST have those authentic Mardi Gras beads or doubloons, you may want to offer a bit of lagniappe, a little something extra beyond the elegance of your kilted self. Wink, wink.
The parade rider ladies will declare you hawt, but it’s gonna be a mighty cold night in the Big Easy.
I say just buy da beads ya self and preserve the “mystery” of what’s under da kilt, mista.
In the ancient Celtic region of modern Portugal, Entrudo, meaning carnival, marks the beginning of the Lenten season.
Entrudo is celebrated on Fat Sunday and Fat Tuesday, right before Ash Wednesday, in the northeastern region of Portugal, once home to several Celtic tribes. Although the modern celebrations are linked to the Christian season of Lent, Entrudo is rooted in pagan Celtic celebrations of spring.
Unlike the hugely popular, elaborate Carnaval of Brazil, complete with dancing showgirls, Entrudo is a traditional, localized festivity. Even so, it successfully combines pagan Celtic customs with Christianity to express both a wild, primitive sense of fun AND a Lenten tone that impresses all who watch.
Not that Christianity can’t be fun, of course, but we’re talking about Lent, a time for penance, reflection, and fasting–not exactly a raucous time.
Colorful caretos at the Entrudo in Podence, northeastern Portugal.Image by TM
The three day Entrudo is most common in the Bragançaarea of Portugal.
Like Carnivale in Brazil and Mardi Gras in America, Entrudo is a noisy, exciting, colorful adventure through the streets of town–but on a smaller scale. Symbolically, winter is driven away and spring is welcomed. Masks are worn, bounteous food and drink is available, and traditional masqueraders like the caretos roam the streets causing mischief and scaring people. Sounds a bit like the Celtic festival of Samhain, aka Halloween, doesn’t it?
The energetic caretos are usually young men wearing green, yellow, red, black and blue fringed wool quilts. Their masks may be made of wood, leather or metal and are distinctive for their beaked noses. They carry a mace or staff and are adorned with bells that herald their arrival with“tinkling”.
The caretos run wildly through the local streets in large groups, their loud shouting almost drowned out by the tintinnabulation of their many bells. Think of Halloween trick-or-treaters, but older and with too much caffeine in their system. The caretos’ craziness can seem a bit wild, even frightening, to tourists, especially young women who are the primary targets of the caretos. That behavior relates to the Celtic fertility aspect of Entrudo.
Gotcha! Women are the main target for caretos during Entrudo. Image by Rosino
Young girl dressed as a careto during Entrudo in Podence, Portugal. Image by Rosino.
Entrudo: Caretos and carnival on Fat Tuesday. Image via Pinterest.
Although Podence is famous for its Entrudo, other parts of northern Portugal hold their own unique carnivals for Fat Tuesday. Here’s a video from the city of Bragança–watch for the plaid-covered bull (a common Celtic symbol of fertility); the traditional bagpipers playing gaitas, and the amazing variety of costumes and masks.
Here’s a photo of a fabulous masquerader from the small village of Lazarim. His costume has an agrarian theme: corn cobs strung together for the outer costume; a mask carved from alder wood by a local craftsmen; gloves adorned with dried corn kernels and a donkey to ride upon (both pagan and Christian symbolism).
Valentine’s Day is almost here, and what better gift for your beloved than the love poems of William Butler Yeats?
After all, Yeats was Ireland’s greatest poet. Brilliantly quoting from the lyrical love poems of William Butler Yeats is more likely to win his or her heart than gambling on a fat, winged baby to hit the correct target.
Love Poems of William Butler Yeats: A Drinking Song
A Drinking Song may seem a strange title for a love poem. Yeat’s words, however, make clear that this brief verse is a toast to love, not to wine.
Romance is not just for the young. In When You Are Old, Yeats reminds us that love can be eternal.
Love Poems of William Butler Yeats: “He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven.” The image is “The Meeting on the Turret Stairs” (1864), by Irish painter Sir Frederic Burton (1816-1900)
February is here and it’s time for Kilted Valentines!
Better than chocolate or flowers, you get 12 months of aye candy in our Kilted Up 2015 calendar of kilted Valentines.
Give something unique and fun for Valentine’s Day–the Kilted Up 2015 calendar, full of kilted Valentines hotties to enjoy year round!
Click HEREto purchase our calendar at ON SALE at Lulu.com and save 25% off the original price.
Your purchase of KILTED UP 2015 brings you 12 months of handsome men in kilts AND helps THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT, a group dedicated to supporting and empowering American military personnel injured while serving their country.
Our Kilted Valentines are brawly represented above by model Tim Kennedy, martial arts expert and member of Clan Kennedy. He is wearing a Kennedy tartan kilt and carrying a two handed Scottish broadsword!
Did you know that the Viking heritage of Mann is one of the strongest amongst the Celtic nations?
The Isle of Man, (Ellan Vannin in Manx) often simply called Mann, today is a self-governing British Crown dependency, and not a part of the United Kingdom. Beginning in the 9th century, however, the Manx people (descendants of Iron Age Celts) were colonized and ruled by Vikings. The Norse rule did not end until 1266, when King Magnus VI of Norway ceded Mann to Scotland in the Treaty of Perth. The Viking heritage of Mann can still be seen in many places on the island: in place names, myths and legends, artifacts on display in local museums, festivals and in its political structure. The Tynwald, Mann’s legislative body, was probably created by early Celts, but derives its name from the Old Norse word Þingvǫllr , meaning “the field of the thing.” It claims to be the oldest continous parliamentary body in the world, dating back to 979 AD.
Here are few of my suggested readings for learning more about the Isle of Man, especially the Viking heritage of Mann.
From the Amazon review of Wilson’s book: “This book presents, for the first time, for both specialist and general reader, a major survey of the Island in the period from the early tenth century to the middle of the eleventh century. The rich archaeological material pagan grave-goods, silver-treasures, headland fortifications, farm-sites, inscribed and carved Christian memorial stones and the wealth of evidence provided by runic inscriptions, place-names and institutions, provide a unique picture of a vibrant society striving to be ever more politically and economically powerful. The story tells of the gradual change from paganism to Christianity and of the absorption of a native population into a society dominated by incoming land-owners and a king owing allegiance to Norway.”
Click HERE to read more and purchase either a soft or hard cover version of David Wilson’s well-written book.
Moore’s book is superb reading for those interested in learning the history behind Norse and Celtic place names and surnames (for genealogical research)that are found on the Isle of Man. Click HERE to purchase the Kindle version for $1.59, HERE for the paperback version or HERE for the hardback copy.
Last, but not least, Bryan Sykes’ book is a fascinating discussion of the DNA history of the British Isles. It is more generalized than the above noted books, but will help you see the many connections modern Celts have to the ancient Vikings who lived in and ruled over the Celtic areas of the British isles. Click HERE to purchase the Kindle or other versions of this fine book.
We all make resolutions in January, but most of us–myself included– fail to follow through. This year, focus on your CELTICMOTIVATION instead. Set a goal for yourself that revolves around your Celtic heritage.
For example, choose a Celtic country that you’d like to visit, then take steps, even baby steps, that will get you closer to that country.
Part of my Celtic motivation this year is to get back to Scotland. My family has ties to Clan Robertson, whose clan territory was in the historic earldom of Atholl, in Highland Perthshire, including Loch Rannoch and the wild, boggy Rannoch Moor. I want to walk some of those ancient clan areas, to just BE there.
And then, merry of soul, I’ll go over the sea to Skye….
To quote the great Scottish bard, Rabbie Burns, however
“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley…”
It may be that I won’t have the funds to travel to Scotland this year, or family and/or work issues may arise and prevent me from going to Scotland this year, or it may be that my new German Shepherd puppy just isn’t ready this year to be left alone for a month.
Doesn’t matter, so long as I keep taking those baby steps toward my Celtic motivation: I WILL get to Scotland soon.
The Drumtroddan Stones are a set of three ancient standing stones near Dumfries and Galloway, in southwest Scotland.
The Drumtroddan Stones were most likely erected 4000 to 5000 years ago, during the Neolithic or early Bronze Age. The area around the stones hasn’t been archaeologically examined, and little is known about the history of this mysterious site.
Until recently, two of the three aligned stones were standing; the middle stone had toppled over onto its side. Whether the stone was pushed over or simply fell is a mystery. According to some folkloric sources, pagan sites such as the Drumtroddan Stones were Christianized during the Middle Ages by locals who knocked over the middle stone, thus forming a crude cross shape.
A few years ago, another of the three stones fell, leaving only one still up right.
Near the Drumtroddan Stones is a set of carved cup and ring marked stones that most likely date to the Bronze Age or earlier. Their close proximity to the standing stones suggests they may have been connected in some way known only to their ancient designers.
Wrap up your own KILTED UP 2015 Christmas present and help The Wounded Warrior Project at the same time!
Ready for the New Year? Get a Kilted Up 2015 Christmas Present now!
Ready for 2015? Thru 12/21, you can save 30% on a KILTED UP 2015 Christmas present by using the code NEWYEAR at check out!
CLICK HERE TO ORDER your Kilted Up 2015 Christmas present now. You can’t give a man in a kilt as a gift–how would you wrap him?- but you CAN give our calendar bursting with kilted hotties!
Your purchase brings you 12 months of handsome men in kilts AND helps THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT, a group dedicated to supporting and empowering American military personnel injured while serving their country.
MODEL: Ray Bowen, talented blacksmith and owner of InvictusForge.com He is wearing one of the 27 tartans associated with Clan Donald.
All of our models are volunteers who have given their time and support to the Kilted Up 2015 project–please give them and AtlantaKilts.com a round of applause for their dedication!
Whether sung in Welsh or in English, these beautiful songs bring peace and tranquility to our often hectic holiday season. Though these songs were not written specifically for the Christmas season, they have nonetheless made their way onto many Christmas song lists, and rightly so. The songs are intended to lull children to sleep, but I find that they also allow us adults to take a deep, calming breath amidst our hurried Christmas coming and goings.
Hwiangerdd Mair is a the Welsh version of Mary’s Lullaby, a song written by Jane Siberry:
See the child that Mary bore On her lap so softly sleeping In a stable cold and poor Ox and ass their vigil keeping
Sing lullaby, sing lullaby My own dear son, my child Lullaby, sing lullaby Lullaby, my little baby
Flights of angels ’round His head Sing Him joyful hymns of greeting Peace on earth, goodwill to men Each to each the song repeating
Shepherds kneeling by His bed Offer homage without measure Wise men, by a bright star led Bring Him gifts of richest treasure
One of the most well-known of the Welsh Christmas lullabies, Suo Gân(Lull song in Welsh) is a traditional Welsh song whose composer is unknown. You may have heard it in Steven Spielberg’s 1987 film, Empire of the Sun, where a young Christian Bale (born in Wales) lip-synchs the lyrics. Here is a lovely version sung by Welsh soprano, Charlotte Church:
Huna blentyn ar fy mynwes Clyd a chynnes ydyw hon; Breichiau mam sy’n dynn amdanat, Cariad mam sy dan fy mron; Ni chaiff dim amharu’th gyntun, Ni wna undyn â thi gam; Huna’n dawel, annwyl blentyn, Huna’n fwyn ar fron dy fam.
Huna’n dawel, heno, huna, Huna’n fwyn, y tlws ei lun; Pam yr wyt yn awr yn gwenu, Gwenu’n dirion yn dy hun? Ai angylion fry sy’n gwenu, Arnat ti yn gwenu’n llon, Tithau’n gwenu’n ôl dan huno, Huno’n dawel ar fy mron?
Click HERE to see full Welsh lyrics with phonetic translation and the English translation.
Ar Hyd y Nosor All Through the Night in English, is another of the old Welsh Christmas lullabies that began as a secular folksong. Acclaimed Welsh opera singer Bryn Terfel’s sings Ar Hyd y Nos :
Dating back to at least the 18th century, Ar Hyd y Nos has been translated into English and Breton.
Sleep my child and peace attend thee, All through the night Guardian angels God will send thee, All through the night Soft the drowsy hours are creeping, Hill and dale in slumber sleeping I my loved ones’ watch am keeping, All through the night
Angels watching, e’er around thee, All through the night Midnight slumber close surround thee, All through the night Soft the drowsy hours are creeping, Hill and dale in slumber sleeping I my loved ones’ watch am keeping, All through the night…
Everyone with a drop of Scottish blood knows the party doesn’t start until the bagpiper arrives. The Great Highland bagpipes–a’ phìob mhòr, in Gàidhlig–are beautiful to hear, but a bit large for a Scottish stocking stuffer.
I suggest you give this wee Lego piper instead–he’ll never wear out his welcome!
If you’re gonna play the war pipes, then you might as well have a Highland warrior to answer the call, aye? This Lego Hielan warrior isn’t wearing a Mackenzie tartan, but he can still bellow “to the car!” with the best of them.
In case you’re thinking these Legos are just Scottish stocking stuffers for kids–nope. I’ve seen them on office desks, bookshelves, defending whisky bottles, acting as mascots for pipe bands, even Velcroed to a car’s dashboard.
Shirts also make great Scottish stocking stuffers for women. Click HERE to see the Women Love Men in Kilts design on other clothing and items–Cafe Press can put the logo on almost everything they sell.
Speaking of loving kilts…
You can’t put a kilted man into a Christmas stocking, but our KILTED UP 2015 calendar of men in kilts will fit just fine!
This Scottish stocking stuffer is a two-fer: you get a dozen handsome kilted men to enjoy during 2015 PLUS a portion of the proceeds goes to The Wounded Warrior Project. Donations to WWP help thousands of wounded warriors and their families, as those service men and women return from current conflicts. Click HERE to see a preview of this popular calendar available at Lulu.com.
Authentic Scottish Castle Music is the perfect stocking stuffer for Outlanderfans! This inexpensive cd features lovely Scottish music from the 18th century that you might have heard at a laird’s Highland castle–IF you could time travel through the stones!
Click HERE to sample some of these timeless Scottish songs.
It’s now official–Sam Heughan is America’s favorite British man. BBC America’s Anglophenia blog just held their fourth annual Anglo Fan Favorite Men’s tourney and Sam Heughan won kilts down over fellow Scotsman, David Tennant.
America successfully drove out the mighty British army more than two hundred years ago, but we can’t seem to resist those sexy Scottish men who reach our shores via films and television.
For example, when someone mentions James Bond, your first thought likely is of Sean Connery, the Scotsman who made that role come alive — Connery IS Bond. Now, everyone’s favorite book boyfriend, 18th century Highland warrior James Fraser fromOutlander, has been brought to life by Scottish actor Sam Heughan, and we must say:
we like him, we really, REALLY like him!
Sam Heughan as James Fraser in Starz’ hit show, Outlander-image via Starz
With 32 contestants and more than three million votes cast, Sam Heughan ultimately defeated his closest rival, David Tennant, by a whopping 61% to 39%. That is no small feat by relative newcomer Heughan in light of Tennant’s huge fan following from Doctor Whoand Broadchurch. Click HERE to read fan comments about the agony of being forced to choose between Sam Heughan and David Tennant:
“David Tennant is a stellar actor. But Sam IS Jamie. Can’t we have them both?”
Here’s a brief thank you from Sam Heughan–on location in Scotland– to all the fans whose votes propelled him to victory:
While Droughtlander will continue until April 4, 2015 (when the second half of Season One continues), Starz kind of feels our pain. On the fourth of each month until April, Starz will release a bit of previously unseen footage from the first 8 episodes. Here is the most recent tidbit:
More videos are available on Youtube, and the full 8 episodes can be seen on Starz On Demand.
To truly understand why fans are so passionate about Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser, first read Diana Gabaldon’s books, starting with Outlander, then watch (or re-watch) the tv episodes. You can then make your own decision as to whether Sam Heughan has earned his title as Anglo Fan Favorite of the Year for 2014.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the US, a day for feasting and celebration, recognizing our many blessings and being grateful for family and friends, whether near or far.
All in all, it’s a traditional day not unlike ones celebrated by our Celtic ancestors, pagan and Christian alike.
So, when you are counting blessings before the Thanksgivingmeal, be sure to count the unique cultural gift we share and hopefully will pass down to our children and grandchildren: our Celtic heritage.
Then, after you’re done with all the “stuffing”, relax with the simple gifts of the Celtic harp:
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St Patrick's Day is coming up soon--time to plan the party! This lovely stained glass and metal Irish candle holder holds any candle up to 3.5" diam. x 6" ht. Candle is not included. Stunning Celtic design accented with shamrocks. Candle holder is 6"H X 4"W X 4"D You could use a wax pillar candle, but the LED faux candles work just as well. I've found them in all sorts of colors, with timers and even remote controls. For a more soft focal point, you could try a votive. click here for more details>> http://bit.ly/CelticShamrockCandle
3 hours ago
An Irish invitation to stop and smell the flowers---life is too short to rush past the beautiful moments. image taken by me last year in County Mayo, Ireland.