Opinionated Celtic FAQs

The Celtic Languages and Literatures

What are the Celtic languages?

Is Celtic pronounced “keltic” or “seltic”?

Where can I learn a Celtic language?

How can I teach myself Old Irish?

How can I teach myself Medieval Welsh?

Who is Taliesin?

What is the Best Celtic Computer?

What is the Mabinogion?

Why Don’t you Like Lady Charlotte Guest’s Mabinogion?


Celtic Studies Publications

What are some basic Celtic Studies Books to Begin with?

Where can I buy Celtic scholarly books?

Who Publishes Celtic Scholarly Books and Journals?

Where can I Find a Celtic Studies Program?

Are there any Celtic Studies Scholarly Organizations?


Druids and Related Celtic Figures

What were Druids, Fili, and Bards?

Were there Women Druids?

Did the Druids and or the Celts build Stonehenge?

Did the Druids or Celts Perform Human Sacrifices?

Why did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Were the Druids Shaman?

How do you Make Chili?

What are Bog Bodies?

What is Samain or Samhain?


About this Site and Other Miscellania

Why are you an Amazon.com Associate?

What’s a Digital Medievalist and who are you anyway?

What’s so Celtic about the Macintosh?

Might I Have My Book, CD-ROM, or Video Reviewed by You?

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  • Bryan Hammersley

    Dear Sir. The identification of Samhain with a Celtic New Year is not “pernicious”. The arguments for this originally put forward by Sir John Rhys are still valid. There is not knockdown proof of this, but it may still well have happened, at least in some parts of the Celtic world, so is not “pernicious”. Best wishes. Bryan Hammersley

    • Lisa Spangenberg

      Rhys doesn’t actually make an argument; moreover, he couldn’t read Old Irish, and depends on truly wretched translations from the early 19th century. There isn’t anything at all in a Medieval Irish text that even approaches equating Samain with “a new year” in the context of what New Years means today.

      All the references to Samain are tied to the agrarian cycle. So yes, the constant references to Samain as a “New year” are in fact pernicious, because, like you, they are relying on less than scholarly data from folklorists like Rhys, who couldn’t read Irish, and struggled with Medieval Welsh, and Franzer of Golden Baugh, who couldn’t even read Middle English or Latin accurately, never mind Welsh or Irish, and lumped together Medieval, Classical, and modern folklore higgledy-piggledy, often without even citing (or having) an actual primary source.

      It’s also pernicious to keep taking early Irish data and unilaterally applying it to “Celtic.”

      Nor am I alone in my assertion; this is the what any informed, educated scholar who can read the primary sources will say.

      Other actions that are pernicious are people who automatically assume scholars are male.