The Irish Quaker and Scottish immigration beginning around 1656 into New England, New York and Pennsylvania is evident today throughout Pennsylvania when the state celebrates with Celtic festivals. Festivals are held throughout the year and throughout the state; festivals begin in February and end in October. The celebrating towns range from Pittsburg to Philadelphia suburbs and from Carlisle to Phoenixville. All the festivals share a number of commonalities.
Bands and music are commonplace at Celtic festivals. The music of the Celts is light and airy. Many wood instruments are present, including bagpipes. Drums, when they are used, are loud, booming drums. The bass line in a Celtic song is deep and resounding, like an echo in the mountains of the United Kingdom.
Common food at Celtic festivals include meat pies and Shepard's pie. A meat pie typically consists of lamb, sheep or goat's meat wrapped in flaky crusts. Shepard's pie includes the same meats wrapped in mashed potatoes or other vegetables. Potatoes in many forms are common, as is corned beef with cabbage. Bread puddings are served for dessert and Irish and Scottish stouts flow throughout the meal.
Dancers are plentiful at Celtic festivals. Ceili dance, a specific type of Irish dance, is widely performed at the Pennsylvania festivals. Celtic dancers are energetic and lively in performances. The dances are done with a stiff upper body with all the movement happening below the knees. The dancers wear stiff shoes to create a beat through their foot movements.
Celtic Stories and Tales
Every Celtic festival offers traditional and modern tales of Scotland and Ireland. Children gather at the feet of storytellers, adults listen to tales told through song or acting, and the whole family has opportunity to learn more about the Celtic heritage. Tales from the Celtic United Kingdom include fantasies about leprechauns and true tales about shepherds during Scotland and Ireland's beginning.
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