Putumayo Presents Celtic Christmas - Various Artists
Anyone who sees religion as unyielding and set in stone sepulchers needs only look to the unfathomable, unholy fusion of pagan and Christian traditions that has evolved into today’s celebration of Christmas. The Yule tree was worshiped a thousand years before standing as today’s fragrant symbol of the holiday; same goes for holly and mistletoe. Caroling came from the Anglo-Saxon tradition of wassailing, which also originated from pagan roots. Early theologians may have gotten the date wrong for the birth of the Christ child but they certainly saw value in the festivities that existed during the dark, harsh, unheated winters of old, during which ancient peoples shared the load of their human trials in an embrace of charity and respect. So too, the music of the tribal Celts was adapted to the sweep of Christianity, molding the sounds of solstice into melodies of devout glory and praise. And, maybe even more than the magnificent compositions and symphonic grace of the works of J.S. Bach, the simple Celtic instrumental elements of whistle, frame drum, fiddle and concertina best expressed modest and humble wishes of goodwill at Christmas time. Putumayo once again does what the label has established itself as a master at, compiling a thematic collection of globe-spanning Celtic musical offerings for the season. Celtic Christmas is a near perfect fireside soundtrack for family and friends; a play list of your favorites with old time and new age Celtic feels, and a couple of less familiar Yule tidings to keep things interesting. Charles T. Cozens is a Canadian composer/conductor with a special gift for seasonal music and stands apart as the only contributor of two tracks to the compilation. But, the magic of Christmas time is fleeting and so is Celtic Christmas. At just 34 minutes playing time, it’s a few choice moments worth savoring, shuffling and repeating.