Pagan dating ireland
"Essentially we are talking about a rural society here. What is important is country people were very conscious of the passage of time within their own landscape." The arrival of the Celtic culture meant that yearly time-keeping adjusted to the Celtic calendar and its associated "quarter days", and this is still the determinant for when the seasons change for many people here.Spring arrives on February 1st, summer on May 1st, autumn on August 1st and winter on November 1st, according to this calendar.There is also an interplay between the original pagan rituals associated with the winter solstice and the society that built Newgrange and the Christian festivals of Christmas and St John's Eve (the day before the feast day of St John the Baptist), he says. "It is hardly an accident that the two solstices are associated with two so powerful figures as Christ and John the Baptist," says Mac Cárthaigh.There is a slight mismatch with the dates but this doesn't mean the link isn't there: "There is clearly something arbitrary about the date choices but it was no coincidence." The original festivals gave structure to the year and marked out pivotal dates associated with the movement of the sun.While the solstice is strongly associated with dawn, as people await the sunrise at the Newgrange passage grave, the actual moment when the sun reaches its most southerly point doesn't come until after sunset - at 6.35pm.The arrival of the solstices was always a momentous occasion in Irish and international folklore, says archivist-collector at University College Dublin's Delargy Centre for Irish Folklore, Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh.
"What is most striking about it is all the festivals are concerned with agriculture and farming," says Mac Cárthaigh.
"Even to the present day Christmas in the Irish tradition is the biggest festival of the year," he says.