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Wednesday, 7 November 2018

If You Want to get Ahead, Get a Celt

Exciting archaeological discovery that the  Celts, having decapitated beaten enemies, would embalm their heads for show.

I dunno. That next service "in the Celtic tradition" is gonna be hard to plan.

But it confirms our view about Christmas tree decorations. The Beaker tradition maintains that, when celebrating Yule (or, as they knew it, Loughtanzer), the ancient Celts would hang their enemies' heads from pine trees - making sure to take them down after Twelfth Night. They believed that on the thirteenth day the heads' souls would return and strike the pine tree down with root weevils. And who needs that?

When Christianity took over, it kept the tree but decided the heads were a bit du trop. So the Christians experimented with pumpkins but, realising they weren't actually known in Europe at the time, fell back on inflated pigs' bladders. To those who said that inflated pigs' bladders were hardly festive - especially for the pigs connected to them - it was pointed out that Calvinism was now in, and this was as good as it got this side of Glory.

And so things remained until a German glass-blower, trying to create tinsel that wasn't made from a yard of rats sewn together, accidentally produced a beautiful, round, perfectly useless globe of glass to hang on the tree. And the journey from Celt's enemies head hanging in a pine forest to pointless Christmas decoration was complete.

1 comment :

  1. I have to admit that I had not read of these traditions in any history teaching I was given. I understood that Christmas Trees and decorations came about when the ancient Celts started trading with the Irish Celts and exported St Patrick to Ireland to give them some insight to the cultural values of the Northern Christians. And having got rid of the Snakes in Ireland, St Patrick decreed that in memory of them, each hovel should use one of the trees they were built from should be decorated with the body parts of their pagan enemies. Eventually Thomas Cromwell found this a practice worth exporting and brought this to the English mainland to ensure cultural diversity among the rather staid Post Henry reformed Christianity.

    I suspect that my interpretation of history might be a flawed as Guy Fawkes being a good Catholic wanted to blow up the Protestant King James and Parliament. But who is going to argue the toss in these days of Post-Truth :)

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