Stories Around the Hearth

For the ancient Celts, November was a time of storytelling.

With All Saints and All Souls Day celebrations, with more time inside as the thermometer dropped and the sun became shy, they’d sit around “the lamp of memory” and tell the stories of the family, of the land, of their people, late into the night.

Sometimes you’d hear a knock at your door in the evening around suppertime, and a Shanachie would arrive and barter a story for dinner. These Schanachie (which literally means “old-ones”) where the keepers of the clan stories, and though they weren’t always old, they were in this ancient tradition and held on to the “old lore.”

You still find these people, by the way, not only in Ireland and Scotland, but also in the places around the world where the Celts have roots. Here in the mountains of North Carolina it’s not strange to go into a country store and find someone there willing to tell a tale to a bent ear.

The fact that November is a time of stories in Celtic tradition and a time of Thanksgiving in our American tradition pairs nicely with one another.

Perhaps this Thanksgiving more stories will be heard: stories of the family, of past holidays, of past holy days.

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