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How Celtic Folkore Has Influenced My Family

1587 words - 6 pages

Every family has a unique background that influences the way they live and interact with other people. My parents, who emigrated from Ireland to the States with my three brothers in 1989, brought over their own Celtic folklore and traditions that have helped shaped the way our family operates and lives. One aspect of folklore that has helped shape my family dynamic is the Celtic cross—both its background and what role it has played in our lives. The Celtic cross has an extensive history in relation to Ireland, but it has a simplistic meaning in my family. The Legend of Finn MacCoul is another piece of folklore that has a different- but no less important- meaning in my family than its origins in Ireland. Although this story has been around for thousands of generations, my parents developed it into making a tradition of telling the folktale as a bedtime story. This story is interesting because there are two different versions—the more popular version and the one my father tells. Both of them promote important lessons that were fundamentals for my siblings and me. Although the Celtic cross and the Legend of Finn MacCoul have important roles in Irish history, these Celtic pieces of folklore have taken on a different meaning in my family because they have been brought over to the United States and have contributed to morals and values of my family.

The Celtic Cross, which originated with Paganism customs, has become a popular symbol for Irish heritage and a stepping stone into womanhood for my family. While folklorists are certain that the four parts symbolized North, South, East and West, many people who study Irish folklore agree that “Saint Patrick combined the Christian Cross with the ‘sun’ to emphasize the importance of the cross to the Pagan followers, giving birth to the Celtic Cross (Origins and Influences, 1).” Although I am unsure of what the original Pagan customs consist of, it is clear that the cross has acquired different roles in both Irish history and the Desmond family. With the help of other immigrants and traditions that have been passed on, this piece of folklore has become a symbol of both Christianity and womanhood in my family. As is tradition, my mother would give each of my sisters a Celtic cross when she made her communion. This ritual extends beyond my immediate family due to our unusually large numbers: while my grandmother is one of eight children, both my mother and I are one of nine. While these strange familial patterns have never been properly explained, they have created a great way for the bond of the women in each family to go much further. Since almost all of my extended family still lives in Ireland, the cross is a consoling connection to my aunts and grandmother who have upheld the tradition. It is also a powerful example of how folklore changed and adapted from Ireland to the United States (particularly to my family). Both this and the giving of the Celtic cross have created a significant tradition that we...

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