The Ancient Celtic Festivals: and How We Celebrate Them Today

Excerpts & Samples

By Clare Walker Leslie

Publisher : Inner Traditions/Bear & Company

ABOUT Clare Walker Leslie

Clare Walker Leslie
Clare Walker Leslie is a nationally known naturalist, wildlife artist and educator. She is the author of the popular children's book Nature All Year Long, as well as six books for adults on observing nature and nature drawing. She divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts and Granv More...



Travel 2,500 years back in time to find out where many of our modern holiday traditions originated.

• Charming full-color ink and watercolor illustrations throughout.

• This valuable resource for teachers and parents uses hands-on activities, natural science facts, and observations to explore the concepts of measuring time, making calendars, and marking seasonal celebrations.

• Shows how our popular holiday traditions are rooted in nature, beginning as the seasonal festivals of an ancient society.

Children love holiday celebrations but most don't know why they wear masks on Halloween or watch for the groundhog on February 2. Now they can discover that many of our modern traditions started with the festivals of the ancient Celts. The Celts were farming people, so their festivals marked the important events of the agricultural year. Imbolc, in very early spring, celebrated the birth of new lambs, while Samhain, in late fall, celebrated the end of the growing season and the beginning of winter. If we look at our modern calendar, we'll find Groundhog Day falling where Imbolc did, Halloween where the Celts celebrated Samhain, and a host of other holiday correspondences. That's because descendants of the Celts were among the first Europeans to settle in the New World, bringing their holiday traditions with them. 

In a world of electric lights and store-bought foods, The Ancient Celtic Festivals can help children make the connections to nature that their ancestors did. Whimsically illustrated activity pages invite them to bake a harvest corn bread, stage a spring festival, or warm up the cold depths of winter with hot spiced cider. Teachers, librarians, parents, and children alike will welcome this book as a fun-filled resource.

"An enormously engaging and informative book. The Authors have included aspects of science, history, mythology, and literature in their explanation of Celtic festivals. . . . will provide the answers for all the children and adults who ever wondered about the mysterious rituals of some of our most well-known holidays. A valuable resource for homes, schools, and libraries."
Sasha Lauterbach
, Librarian, Cambridge Friends School

"This is a charming and delightful book for adults and children alike. In a simple manner, the authors trace many of our festivals to their Celtic and European roots."
Father Timothy Joyce
, Order of Saint Benedict, author of Celtic Christianity: A Sacred Tradition, A Vision of Hope

"Frank Gerace and Clare Walker Leslie have put together a wonderful and much needed introduction to the magical year. I warmly recommend it to all in need of a good, accurate, and clearly presented guide."
John Matthews
, author of Drinking from the Sacred Well

"One of the best books that a Celtic parent could give to their child."
Pan's Love
, Spring 2001

". . . teaches kids without dumbing down the history."
Steve McCardell
, The New Times, June, 2001

"A good book for families and teachers."
The Revels Newsletter
, January 2002

"Highly recommended. This is a good book for kids. I'd recommend it for parents and educators alike."
brighid's best
, PagaNet News, Volume VIII Issue VII

"This is an excellent selection for Pagan parents looking for material to help them introduce the Wheel of the Year to their children."
Circle Magazine
, Spring 2001

"This is lavishly illustrated with color drawings. It explains the natural science and astronomy behind the seasons. The author also explains how we got calendars. [The Ancient Celtic Festivals] presents engrossing history of the Celts, their practices, and traditions."
BellaOnline, March 2009