Celts are not a culture located at a particular point on the map. This is called the group of peoples settled in the present territories of Ireland, Great Britain, France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, part of Germany, part of Spain and Northern Italy. They lived in the Iron Age until about 50 AD. The central Celtic villages were Gauls, Helvetic, Bretons and Celtiberos. They had in common their warrior origins and fought each other, while they were also led by a tribal leader or chief.
- Celtic customs
The Celts built fortified settlements in high areas, where the market, artisans, and tribal chiefs were located. They were circular constructions, small and straightforward. These fortifications are known in the Iberian Peninsula as “castros” and abound in Galicia. Around them they built farms and villages for the practice of Agriculture and livestock, these being their main economic activities.
The tribal chiefs were warriors and ruled by their number of followers (among whom they shared the wealth obtained from their raids or conquests). Losing battles was considered a failure and humiliation, as courage was a crucial feature in directing the tribe. They were dangerous warriors and expert horsemen, although they lacked military discipline.
Celtic Women, when they married, acquired rights over the common property. They were skilled warriors and even led tribes.
The Celts wore wool or yarn attire in reddish, yellow and blue tones, to which they designed pictures and Stripes. The nobles used the silk of golden threads adorned with embroidery. They also used wool cloths that, depending on their length and volume, established social status. The women wore robes tied to the waist and a cloak covering the body, while they also wore skirts of pictures showing their ankles. Men and women were adorned with jewels, bracelets, necklaces, or clasps.
- Commercial Life
Over time, many villages and castors became financial settlements thanks to the business ties created with the Romans. Rome needed raw materials and slaves, while tribal chiefs in return got luxury goods to give up their followers and maintain their status quo.
- Characteristics of Celtic culture
The Celtic culture, being so extensive in time, is divided into two significant periods: Hallstatt (years 800 to 500 BC) and La Tène (years 500 BC to 50 ads). In the first period (named after an Austrian People) they worked iron skillfully and established commercial networks. The region of La Tène (Switzerland) was where the second period of Celtic culture originated. During this time, they perfected the management of iron and forged the style known today as Celtic.
The Celts had no written tradition. Its oral tradition passed from generation to generation, thanks to bards. They were poets, storytellers, and professional musicians. They were formed for years memorizing stories, legends, and poems. They were respected composers, as the reputation of the Chiefs and Warriors could be called into question in their songs.
The Celtic festivals were based on the agricultural calendar. There was a special occasion on November 1, as according to their tradition that day the spirits of the dead wandered free. Still today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints or Anglo-Saxon Halloween in honor of this day.
The Celts were polytheists, and their gods varied according to the regions. The Druids, priests who acted as mediators between men and gods, controlled the sacrifices and intervened as judges.
- Celtic art
They made mirrors, necklaces, bracelets, buckles, amulets and earrings. They also adorned the handles of swords, knives and shields. They developed a style distinguished by curved and winding lines, abstract geometric figures and natural motifs that form the basis of a decoration that has transcended to this day. These peoples gave importance and magical attributions to the large stones we know today as dolmens and menhirs. They possibly constituted sites of ritual meetings and ceremonies around them. In Spain is the sculpture of the Bulls of Guisando. Made of granite, it is believed that they were sculpted in the 2nd century BC by a cattle tribe as an offering.
- Celtic amulets
- Trisquel: symbol formed by three spiral arms connected at a central point. Three was a sacred number and meant balance and perfection. It represented the balance between body, mind, and spirit. It was also associated with the three social classes: Druids, Warriors, and workers.
- Celtic cross: it symbolized the four cardinal points and the gods that dwelled them. Also, the four seasons of the year. It is thought to be the elements earth, air, water, and fire united by energy (the circle).
- Triquetra: it represented life, death, and reincarnation. It also refers to the concept of body, mind, and soul. The Druids used it to heal, bless, and give fertility in their rituals.
- Tree of life: embodied the union between heaven and Earth, between the living and the dead, the relationship between the mystical on the one hand and the earthly on the other. It also meant reincarnation. For them, the tree was a representation of the gods and constituted strength and wisdom.
- Perennial knot: the symbol of the eternal union of lovers beyond time and space. He is also credited with the gift of Eternity, infinite life through reincarnation.
- Pentagram: this five-pointed star within a circle represented divinity and was used in its sacred rituals. It constitutes harmony, spiritual enlightenment, the blessing of the gods.
- Where: the two intertwined Serpents represent the guardian of all the Earth’s treasures. The Celts considered snakes as sacred divinities of the forests.
- Sun cross: considered the oldest known religious symbol. Formed by a cross of equal arms within a circle, it represents the solar calendar, solstices and equinoxes, and the four seasons.
- Spiral: it symbolized the reincarnation and immortality of the spirit because they thought it was an infinite symbol, without beginning or end. It also represents the evolution and Human Development.
- Steel or double spiral: alludes to the duality of things. It is used to represent the equinoxes. It’s the equivalent of eastern yin-yang.
- Celtic Music
The term Celtic music generally applies to Irish and Scottish melodies, but also English folk music and traditional music from Galicia, Cantabria, and Asturias. The Celtic musical tradition is also active in Britain. The instruments usually used in his performance are the gaita, the bodhran, the violin, the tin whistle, the low whistle, the Irish flute, the bombard, and the Celtic harp.
The central Celtic languages of which linguistic influences remain today are Gaelic, Breton, Welsh, and cornice. These gave rise to Indo-European languages.
The body art of tattoo has been fed in recent decades by geometric models representative of Celtic culture. These symbols related to strength, good luck, protection, or beyond have given rise to being used as models for tattooing.