- Modern Celts
Modern Celts are those peoples who are speakers of
Celtic languages, or who consider themselves, or have been considered by others, to participate in a Celtic culturederiving from communities that have formerly been Celtic-speaking.
The term is generally used for a number of peoples in
Western Europesharing various cultural traits, including those speaking languages with a common Insular Celticorigin, ultimately descending from the Celtsof antiquity.
Since the Enlightenment, the term "Celtic" has been applied to a wide variety of peoples and cultural traits present and past. Today, Celtic is often used in order to describe the people, and their respective cultures and languages:i.e. the
Bretons, the Cornish, the Irish (especially the Gaeltacht), the Manx people, the Scots ( Gàidhealtachd) and the Welsh (Cymry), i.e. the members of the modern " Celtic nations". Except for the Bretons, all groups mentioned have been subject to strong Anglicizationsince the Early Modern period, and are hence are also described as participating in an Anglo-Celticmacro-culture. By the same token, the Bretons have been subject to strong Frenchification since the Early Modern period, and can similarly be described as participating in an Franco-Celtic macro-culture.
Less common is the assumption of "Celticity" for European cultures deriving from
Continental Celticroots ( Gaulsand Celtiberians), since these have been either Romanized or Germanized much earlier, before the Early Middle Ages. Nevertheless, "Celtic" origins are sometimes implied for continental groups such as the Asturians, Galicians, French, Swiss or Austrians. The names of Belgiumand the Aquitainehark back to " Gallia Belgica" and " Gallia Aquitania", respectively, in turn named for the Belgaeand the Aquitani. The Latin name of the Swiss Confederacy, "Confoederatio Helvetica", harks back to the Helvetii. The name of Galicia to the Gallaeci. The name "Britain" itself derives from that of the Priteni.
History of 'Celticity'
'Celt' has been adopted as a label of self-identification by a variety of peoples at different times. 'Celticity' can refer to the inferred links between them.
During the 19th century, French nationalists gave a privileged significance to their descent from the
Gauls. The struggles of Vercingetorixwere portrayed as a forerunner of the 19th-century struggles in defence of French nationalism, including the wars of both Napoleons ( Napoleon I of Franceand Napoleon III of France). Basic French history textbooks could begin with the famous words "Nos ancêtres les Gaulois..." ("Our ancestors the Gauls..."). A similar use of "celticity" for 19th century nationalism was made in Switzerland, when the Swiss were seen to originate in the Celtic tribe of the Helvetii, a link still found in the official Latin name of Switzerland, "Confœderatio Helvetica", the source of the nation code CH.
Before the advance of
Indo-European studies, philologists established that there was a relationship between the Goidelicand Brythoniclanguages, as well as a relationship between these languages and the extinct Celtic languages such as Gaulish, spoken in classical times. The term "Celtic" therefore came to be widely applied in the 18th century (for the first time) to the Goidelicand Brythoniclanguages, and by extension to the peoples that spoke them.
At the same time, there was also a tendency to play up alternative heritages in the
British Islesat certain times. For example, in the Isle of Man, in the Victorian era, the " Viking" heritage was emphasised, and in Scotland, both Norse and Anglo-Saxon heritage was played up.
A romantic image of the Celt as
noble savagewas cultivated by the early William Butler Yeats, Lady Gregory, Lady Charlotte Guest, Lady Llanover, James Macpherson, Chateaubriand, Théodore Hersart de la Villemarquéand the many others influenced by them. This image coloured not only the English perception of their neighbours on the so-called "Celtic fringe" (compare the stage Irishman), but also Irish nationalismand its analogues in the other Celtic-speaking countries. Among the enduring products of this resurgence of interest in a romantic, pre-industrial, brooding, mystical Celticity are Gorseddau, the revival of the Cornish language, and the revival of the Gaelic games.
After World War II, "race" went out of fashion and "
culture" took its place. Many of the same stereotypes and caricatures of Celticity once attributed to the Celtic or Alpine race, were thus recycled under the label of culture. But since the 1960s, Celticity has been put to a somewhat different use. The peoples of the "Celtic fringe" found in Celticity an explanation for their peripheral "otherness", as well as a source of pride which could galvanize them into demands for development and regeneration. Nationalists in Northern Irelandsought an end to endemic discrimination with the Civil Rights Movement. Breton regionalists participated in the May 1968 revoltunder Breton flags and with the slogan "Bretagne=Colonie".
The "modern Celtic" groups' distinctiveness as "national", as opposed to regional, minorities has been periodically recognised by major British papers. For example, a "Guardian" editorial in 1990 pointed to these differences, and said that they should be constitutionally recognised::"Smaller minorities also have equally proud visions of themselves as irreducibly Welsh, Irish, Manx or Cornish. These identities are "distinctly national" in ways which "proud people from
Yorkshire", much less proud people from Berkshirewill never know. Any new constitutional settlement "which ignores these factors" will be built on uneven ground." [" The Guardian", editorial, 8 May 1990]
Republic of Ireland, on surpassing Britain's GDPper capita in the 1990s for the first time in centuries, was given the moniker " Celtic tiger". Thanks in part to agitation on the part of Cornish regionalists, Cornwallwas able to obtain Objective Onefunding from the European Union. Scotland and Wales obtained agencies like the Welsh Development Agency, and Scottish and Welsh Nationalists have recently supported the institution of the Scottish Parliamentand National Assembly for Wales. More broadly, a distinct identity in opposition to that of the metropolitan capitals has been forged and taken strong root.
These latter evolutions have proceeded hand in hand with the growth of a pan-Celtic or inter-Celtic dimension, seen in many organizations and festivals operating across various Celtic countries. Celtic studies departments at many universities in Europe and beyond, have studied the various ancient and modern Celtic languages and associated history and folklore under one roof.
The Celtic link is also claimed to come mainly from:
roots revival, applied to Celtic music, has brought much inter-Celtic cross-fertilization, as, for instance, Welsh musicians have revived the use of the mediaeval Welsh bagpipeunder the influence of the Breton "binioù", Irish "uillean" pipes and famous Scottish pipes, or the Scots have revived the "bodhran" from Irish influence. Sports such as Hurlingand Shintyare seen as being 'Celtic', whilst the Scottish mod and Irish fleadhare seen as an equivalent to the Breton fest noz.
The USA has also taken part in discussions of modern Celticity. For example, recently elected
VirginiaSenator James H. Webb, in his 2004 book "Born Fighting – How the Scots-Irish Shaped America", controversially asserts that the early "pioneering" immigrants to North Americawere of Scots-Irishorigins. He goes on to argue that their distinct "Celtic traits" (loyalty to kin, mistrust of governmental authority, and military readiness), in contrast to the "Anglo-Saxon" settlers, helped construct the modern "American identity". Irish Americans also played an important role in the shaping of 19th-century Irish republicanismthrough the Fenianmovement, the development of a discourse of the Great Hunger as a British atrocity, and so on.
nations tend to be most associated with a modern Celtic identity, and are considered 'the Celtic nations'. These are:
:* flag|Brittany:* flag|Ireland|4prov :* flag|Scotland:* flag|Wales:* flag|Cornwall:* flag|Isle of Man
It is these 'Six Nations' that (alone) are considered Celtic by the Celtic League and the
Celtic Congressamongst others. These organizations ascribe to a definition of Celticity based mainly upon language. In the aforementioned six regions, Celtic languages have survived and continue to be used to varying degrees in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany. [ [http://www.breizh.net/icdbl/saozg/Celtic_Languages.pdf Visio-Map of Europe Celtic Europe.vsd ] ]
A number of activists on behalf of other regions/nations have also sought recognition as modern Celts, reflecting the wide diffusion of ancient Celts across Europe. Of these, the following regions are prominent:
In neither Galicia nor Asturias has a Celtic language survived, and as such both fall outside of the litmus test used by the Celtic League, and the
Celtic Congress. Nevertheless, many organizations organized around Celticity consider that both Galicia and Asturias"can claim a Celtic cultural or historic heritage". [ [http://www.celticleague.org/celtic_nations.html Celtic League American Branch - Celtic Nations ] ] These claims to Celticity are rooted in the historical existence of Celts in these regions. [http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/celtic/ekeltoi/volumes/vol6/6_5/alvarez_sanchis_6_5.pdf] [ [http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/celtic/ekeltoi/volumes/vol6/6_15/garcia_alonso_6_15.pdf PaleoHispania ] ] (see Celtiberiansand Castro culture).
Elements of Celtic music, dance, and folklore can be found within
England(eg. Yan Tan Tethera), and the Cumbric languagesurvived until the collapse of the Kingdom of Strathclydein about 1018. [Fischer, S. R., "History of Language", Reaktion Books, 2004, p. 118] England as a whole comprises many distinct regions, and some of these regions, such as Cumbria, [ [http://www.celticcumbria.co.uk Page Title ] ] Lancashire, and DevonFact|date=August 2007, claim more Celtic heritage than others. Notably, although modern Cumbria has similar borders to the older kingdom of Rheged, it is an amalgation of Cumberland, Westmorland, Lancashireand part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and many Cumbrians still identify first with these older countiesFact|date=August 2008. [http://www.barrowbc.gov.uk/pdf/Cumbria_Unitary_Bid_Critique_V3-web.pdf]
Migration from Celtic countries
No treatment of modern Celticity would be complete without mentioning the migrations of people from Celtic countries. A very large portion of the populations of the
United States, Canada, Australiaand New Zealandis composed of people from Ireland, Britain, Brittany and the Isle of Man; and Jamaica, Barbados, Montserrat, Saint-Barthélemy, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Chilehave also experienced large-scale migration from these lands at various times.
There are three areas outside Europe with communities of traditional Celtic language speakers: the province of
Chubutin Patagoniawith Welsh-speaking Argentinians (known as "Y Wladfa"), Cape Breton Islandin Nova Scotiawith Scottish Gaelic-speaking Canadians, and southeast Newfoundland with Irish-speaking Canadians.
While no Celtic-identified immigrant group is currently pursuing
independenceor other nationalistgoals, Celtic-identified people have played critical roles in each societies' movements for independence from the larger empiresto which they were formerly attached – for example, the most common mother-tongue amongst the Fathers of Confederationwhich saw the formation of Canadawas Gaelic. [ [http://www.pch.gc.ca/special/flag-drapeau/defi-challenge/reponses-answers_e.cfm Ministry of Canadian Heritage] . Gaelic most common mother-tongue among Fathers of Confederation. URL accessed 26/04/2006.] Today, Celticity throughout the world is generally presented as a culturalidentity (as opposed to nationalist, but with a racial or ethnicbase), and is experiencing a major revival. There is a movement in Cape Breton for a separate province in Canada, as espoused by the Cape Breton Labour Partyand others.
Since the 1960s, there has been a very considerable growth of interest and enthusiasm in their Celtic heritage on the part of such people. Certain areas outside of the identified Celtic nations have particularly strong associations with these various identities: the
Yorke Peninsula, South Australia, with Cornish Australians; Liverpooland Manchesterwith the Welsh and Irish people in England; Jesus College, Oxfordwith Welsh students; South Bostonor the South Side of Chicagowith Irish Americans; and certain arrondissements of Pariswith Breton Parisians.
Simultaneously, in some former British colonies, or particular regions within them, the term
Anglo-Celtichas emerged as a descriptor of an ethnic grouping. In particular, Anglo-Celtic Australianis a term commonly used in academic circles in Australia; it refers to at least 80% of the population. [ [http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/7d12b0f6763c78caca257061001cc588/af5129cb50e07099ca2570eb0082e462!OpenDocument Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2003, "Population characteristics: Ancestry of Australia's population"] (from Australian Social Trends, 2003). Retrieved 1 September 2006.] "Anglo-Celtic" can be interpreted as either an affirmation of both Celtic and Anglo-Saxon cultures, or a rejection of the notion that they are separate and distinct. It is not necessarily accepted by all of the people to which it is applied.
Criticism of modern Celticism
John Collisof the University of Sheffieldhas argued that the idea of a 'Celtic' culture in the British Isleswas invented entirely by early modern authors, primarily by Edward Lhuyd, and then re-born by modern day nationalists. In Ireland, it has been shown that only around a quarter of the island contains significant archaeological evidence of the Iron Age culture typically identified as 'Celtic'. [ [http://www.irish-association.org/archives/richard_warner11_99.html CELTIC IRELAND AND OTHER FABLES: POLITICS AND PREHISTORY] ]
Among Insular Celtic groups, while there is strong evidence for linkages between Insular and Continental Celts, earlier assumptions that the Atlantic Celts must be the descendants of an "invasion" of Continental Celts have largely been proven false. This finding has led some, including Richard Wagner of the Irish Institute, to assert that the Atlantic Celts are "not Celts at all". [ [http://www.irish-association.org/archives/richard_warner11_99.html The Irish Association - Richard Warner ] ] Wagner associates Celticity with a "
gene pool" when he claims that "the Celts" were "warrior-adventurers whose influence and effect far outweighed their numbers, but who are most unlikely to have a significant or measurable effect on the Irish gene pool".
Modern Celts are divided fairly evenly between Protestants and Roman Catholics. About 75% of the population of the island of Ireland is Roman Catholic, as are nearly all Bretons, but the majority of the Scots, Welsh, Cornish and Manx are
Protestant. In Scotland, there is a substantial Roman Catholic minority, estimated as 16% in the 2001 Census, mainly in areas with recent Irish immigration, but also in some Gaelic speaking areas such as South Uistand Barra. The Archbishop of Canterbury(and Primate of All England), Dr Rowan Williams, is a Welsh speaking Welshman, whilst the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Cormac Murphy O'Connor, is of Irish parentage.
Peter Berresford Ellis. 1992. "Introduction". "Dictionary of Celtic Mythology". Oxford UniversityPress.
Norman Davies. 1999. "The Isles: A History". Oxford UniversityPress.
Robert O'Driscoll(ed). 1981. "The Celtic Consciousness". George Braziller, Inc, New York City.
Euan Hague, Benito Giordanoand Edward Sebesta2005. "Whiteness, multiculturalism and nationalist appropriation of Celtic culture: the case of the League of the South and the Lega Nord" in " Cultural Geographies", 12 (2), 151-173
John Collis2003. "Celts: Origins, Myths and Interventions". Tempus
* [http://www.manxman.co.im/cleague/ Celtic League]
* [http://www.celticleague.org/ Celtic League - American Branch]
* [http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0603/sights_n_sounds/index.html The Celtic Realm]
* [http://www.celticcountries.com/ CelticCountries.com - Monthly magazine on current affairs in the Celtic nations]
* [http://www.celtic-world.net/ Celtic-World.Net, - Various information on Celtic culture and music]
*PDFlink| [http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0603/feature3/images/mp_download.3.pdf National Geographic
] |306 KiB
* [http://www.celticgrounds.com/chapters/c-nations.htm The Celtic Nations]
* [http://www.siliconglen.com/celtfaq/ soc.culture.celtic newsgroup FAQ]
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