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IRISH TRADITIONS

Anam Cara

At the heart of Celtic society is the notion of relationship embodied in the Gaelic phrase, anam cara. Anam is an Irish word for "soul, cara means "friend" thus "a soul friend".

Celtic spiritual tradition teaches that the human soul hovers around the body like a vigilant halo; anam cara is what results when two souls flow together. It is believed that the potential for such relationships exists before time and is aroused when kindred spirits find each other.

Once this friendship is awakened between two people, it cannot be broken by time or space. An anam cara accepts you for who you are and, in doing so, helps you to give birth to your own soul. This image of friendship is a poignant example of Celtic wisdom that transcends the ages.

Irish (Celtic) New Year

Celtic priests went into the woods on New Year's Eve to gather bunches of mistletoe, which they handed out to the people for protection against any harm. They also lit bonfires to drive away evil forces. They believed that it was safer to stay indoors as fairies were abroad on New Year's Eve.

Irish girls would go to bed and place sprigs of mistletoe, or holly, and ivy leaves under their pillows, in hope of a dream about their future husbands. They might also chant:

"Oh, Ivy Green and Holly Red,
Tell Me, Tell Me, Whom I shall Wed!"

On New Year's Eve, a large loaf of Christmas bread or cake was taken outside the house and hammered against the closed doors and windows, to drive out any misfortune and let happiness in. If they ate a very large supper that evening, it is believed that they would have plenty of food for the coming year.

This site has been copyrighted by the Sons and Daughters of Erin
Site designed and maintained by Kathleen Flanagan
Last Update: August 2004


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