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Re: Celtic months (was: Some suggestions)
At 9:14 pm -0500 26/1/99, Padraic Brown wrote:
>On Tue, 26 Jan 1999, Raymond A. Brown wrote:
>> [Celtic month names]
>> I don't know the modern Irish names - but I do have the Scots Gaelic ones
>> and I notice Meitheamh is not there (Doesn't meanto say the Irish don't
>> still have it, though). But a couple of the names reminded me of the legal
>> Kernu names & I thought Padraig might be interested. The Gaelic names are
>> all preceeded by the definite article:
>I deleted the def. arts. and replaced the accented vowels, which didn't
>come out right :-(
I wondered about the accents - that's why I included remarks in square
brackets. Maybe one day all ISPs, mail-readers etc will be able to handle
Alex. MacBain's Etymological dict. of Scottish Gaelic
>gives the explanations I've put in parentheses; Malcolm MacLennan's Gaelic
>Dict. gives the other list. Giblean and Sultain remain unrevealled.
>> Jan Faoilteach (Wolf mo.) ceud-mhios na bliadhna
>> Feb Gearran (Gelding) ceud-mhios na earraich
>> Mar Maàrt (Martius) mios na Mairt
>> Apr Giblean (April) an Giblean
Gilbean doesn't look much like 'Aprilis' ! Wonder what the etymology
>> May Ceéiteann (cetsoman > Head of Summer --same--
>> Jun oÒgmos (Ogmios a god) an og mhios, mios meadhoin an t-Samhraidh
I assumed this was the god Ogmios. I guess it's no more strange for a
Celtic god's name to survive in a Christian calendar than it is for Roman
gods' names to have done :)
>> Jul Iuchar (the dog days) m. deireannach an t-S.
Doesn't look much 'cu' (dog) - again I wonder what the etymology was.
>> Aug Luùnastl (Lug's festival/wedding) c. m. an Fhoghair
Yes, the 1st August is Lammas - "Loaf-mass". In Saxon times the first
fruits of the harvest were offered to God on this day. IIRC it was a
Christianizing of an earlier pagan festival to the god Lug.
>> Sep Sultain (?) m. meadhonach an Fhoghair
>> Oct Damhair (rutting time) m. deireannach an Fhoghair
>> Nov Samhain (Summer's end) c. mhios a' gheamhraidh
>> Dec Dubhlachd (black ?) m. meadhonach a' gheamhraidh
>first mo. of the year; 1st mo. of spring; March; April; head of summer;
>Ogmios/middle month of Summer; last month of Summer; first Harvest month;
>middle harvest month; last harvest month; first month of Winter; middle
>month of Winter.
I got the seasonal references. Certainly the old Roman calendar began in
Spring with 'March', before Caesar formally changed it to the new moon
following the winter solstice in IIRC 44 BC - hence our modern New Year
(used for less than 300 years in England - until 1752 New Year's day was
March 25th here!).
Do we know whether all Celts began their year in Spring? Or did some
choose the Autumn (like the Jewish calendar) and others mid-summer or
mid-winter? Certainly among the Greeks, there seems to have been
>The list of Irish Gaelic months I've got is:
>Feb mi na Feabra, mi na Feile Bride (Bridget's feast)
>Mar an Marta
>Apr an tAibrean
Not sure about the 4th one, but the first three are clearly from Latin.
>May mi na Bealtaine (bright fire)
>Jun an Meitheamh (could this be connected with middle?)
I'd expect -dh- not -th- if that were so.
One more Latin one.
>Aug mi na Lunasa
>Sep Mean Fhomhair
>Oct Deireadh Fomhair
>Nov mi na Samhna
>Dec mi na Nollag (Nowel)
And 'Nollag' of course is ultimately from Latin 'Na:ta:lic- ' :)
>> Can't help noticing 'dubh' "black" in the last name :) I don't know the
>> etymologies of the others, except March which is clearly a borrowing from
>Dumanios might be composed of dubis (black) as well.
I think it could well be.
>> Legal Kernu 'Cutios' (April) might be cognate with Céiteann (May) and
>If Ceiteann means 'head of summer', then no, as head was pennos (Pensamos,
>perhaps). Cutios is left unrevealled.
But 'ceud' in Gaelic is 1st, not head. 'Ceiteann' might be 1st (of summer) ?