Céilidh
Overview
 
In modern usage, a céilidh or ceilidh (ˈkeɪlɪ) is a traditional Gaelic
Gaels
The Gaels or Goidels are speakers of one of the Goidelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and subsequently spread to western and northern Scotland and the Isle of Man....

 social gathering, which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music
Gaelic music
Gaelic music is an umbrella term forthe folk music of the Scottish Highlands and of Ireland . It has also been used for any music written in the Gaelic languages of Scottish Gaelic and Irish. Gaelic music could thus be seen as a type of Celtic music....

 and dancing. It originated in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, but is now common throughout the Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

 and Scottish
Scottish people
The Scottish people , or Scots, are a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Picts and Gaels, incorporating neighbouring Britons to the south as well as invading Germanic peoples such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse.In modern use,...

 diaspora
Diaspora
A diaspora is "the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland" or "people dispersed by whatever cause to more than one location", or "people settled far from their ancestral homelands".The word has come to refer to historical mass-dispersions of...

s. In Scottish Gaelic it is spelled cèilidh (ˈkʲʰeːli) and in Irish
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

 it is spelled céilí (ˈceːlʲiː).
The term is derived from the Old Irish céle (singular) meaning "companion".
Discussions
Encyclopedia
In modern usage, a céilidh or ceilidh (ˈkeɪlɪ) is a traditional Gaelic
Gaels
The Gaels or Goidels are speakers of one of the Goidelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and subsequently spread to western and northern Scotland and the Isle of Man....

 social gathering, which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music
Gaelic music
Gaelic music is an umbrella term forthe folk music of the Scottish Highlands and of Ireland . It has also been used for any music written in the Gaelic languages of Scottish Gaelic and Irish. Gaelic music could thus be seen as a type of Celtic music....

 and dancing. It originated in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, but is now common throughout the Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

 and Scottish
Scottish people
The Scottish people , or Scots, are a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Picts and Gaels, incorporating neighbouring Britons to the south as well as invading Germanic peoples such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse.In modern use,...

 diaspora
Diaspora
A diaspora is "the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland" or "people dispersed by whatever cause to more than one location", or "people settled far from their ancestral homelands".The word has come to refer to historical mass-dispersions of...

s. In Scottish Gaelic it is spelled cèilidh (ˈkʲʰeːli) and in Irish
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

 it is spelled céilí (ˈceːlʲiː).

Etymology

The term is derived from the Old Irish céle (singular) meaning "companion". It later became céilidhe and céilidh. However, in Scottish Gaelic reformed spelling
Scottish Gaelic orthography
Scottish Gaelic orthography has evolved over many centuries. Scottish Gaelic spelling is mainly based on etymological considerations.Due to the etymological nature of the writing system, the same written form may result in a multitude of pronunciations depending on the spoken variant...

 it is now spelled as cèilidh (plural cèilidhean) and in Irish reformed spelling
Irish orthography
Irish orthography has evolved over many centuries, since Old Irish was first written down in the Latin alphabet in about the 6th century AD. Prior to that, Primitive Irish was written in Ogham...

 as céilí (plural céilithe).

History

Originally, a ceilidh was a social gathering of any sort, and did not necessarily involve dancing.
In more recent decades, the dancing portion of the event has usurped the older meanings of the term, though the tradition of guests performing music, song, story telling and poetry still persists in some areas.

Modern ceilidhs

Céilidhs facilitated courting and prospects of marriage for young people and, although discos and nightclubs have displaced céilidhs to a considerable extent, they are still an important and popular social outlet in rural parts of Ireland and Scotland, especially in the Gaelic-speaking regions. Céilidhs are sometimes held on a smaller scale in private or public house
Public house
A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. There are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom. This number has been declining every year, so that nearly half of the smaller...

s, for example in remote rural hinterlands and during busy festivals.
It is common for some clubs and institutions such as sports clubs, schools and universities and even employers to arrange céilidhs on a regular or at least annual basis. The formality of these can vary. Some mix modern pop music with a Scottish country dancing band and dress codes range from compulsory highland dress
Kilt
The kilt is a knee-length garment with pleats at the rear, originating in the traditional dress of men and boys in the Scottish Highlands of the 16th century. Since the 19th century it has become associated with the wider culture of Scotland in general, or with Celtic heritage even more broadly...

 to informal. Knowledge and use of the basic dance steps is not always strictly necessary, and dances often alternate with songs, poetry recitals, story telling and other types of "party pieces".

Céilidh music may be provided by an assortment of fiddle
Fiddle
The term fiddle may refer to any bowed string musical instrument, most often the violin. It is also a colloquial term for the instrument used by players in all genres, including classical music...

, flute
Flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

, tin whistle
Tin whistle
The tin whistle, also called the penny whistle, English Flageolet, Scottish penny whistle, Tin Flageolet, Irish whistle and Clarke London Flageolet is a simple six-holed woodwind instrument. It is an end blown fipple flute, putting it in the same category as the recorder, American Indian flute, and...

, accordion
Accordion
The accordion is a box-shaped musical instrument of the bellows-driven free-reed aerophone family, sometimes referred to as a squeezebox. A person who plays the accordion is called an accordionist....

, bodhrán
Bodhrán
The bodhrán is an Irish frame drum ranging from 25 to 65 cm in diameter, with most drums measuring 35 to 45 cm . The sides of the drum are 9 to 20 cm deep. A goatskin head is tacked to one side...

, and in more recent times also drum
Drum
The drum is a member of the percussion group of musical instruments, which is technically classified as the membranophones. Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell and struck, either directly with the player's hands, or with a...

s, guitar
Guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

 and electric bass guitar
Bass guitar
The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

. The music is cheerful and lively, and the basic steps can be learned easily; a short instructional session is often provided for new dancers before the start of the dance itself. In Ireland the first céilidh band was put together in 1926 by Séamus Clandillon, Radio Éireann's director of Music, in order to have dance music for his studio-based programmes.

Dancing at céilidhs is usually in the form of céilidh dances
Ceili dance
Ceili dances, or true ceili dances are a popular form of folk dancing in Ireland. For the events at which Ceili dances are performed, see Céilidh....

, set dance
Set dance
Set dancing, sometimes called "country sets", are a popular form of folk dancing in Ireland. Set dances are based on quadrilles. The latter were court dances which were transformed by the Irish into a unique folk dance of the Irish rural communities...

s or couple dances. A "Set" consists of four couples, with each pair of couples facing another in a square or rectangular formation. Each couple exchanges position with the facing couple, and also facing couples exchange partners, while all the time keeping in step with the beat of the music.

However, about half of the dances in the modern Scots céilidh are couple dances performed in a ring. These can be performed by fixed couples or in the more sociable "progressive" manner, with the lady moving to the next gentleman in the ring at or near the end of each repetition of the steps. In Ireland, the similar style of dance is called céili dance
Ceili dance
Ceili dances, or true ceili dances are a popular form of folk dancing in Ireland. For the events at which Ceili dances are performed, see Céilidh....

 or fíor (true) céili dance. Some of the dances are named after famous regiments, historical battles and events, others after items of daily rural life. The "Gay Gordons
Gay Gordons (dance)
The Gay Gordons is a popular dance at céilidhs and other kinds of informal and social dance. It is an "old-time" dance, of a type popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in which every couple dances the same steps, usually in a circle around the room....

", "Siege of Ennis", "The Walls of Limerick" and "The Stack of Barley" are popular dances in this genre.

Step dancing is another form of dancing often performed at céilidhs, the form that was popularised in the 1990s by the world-famous Riverdance
Riverdance
Riverdance is a theatrical show consisting of traditional Irish stepdancing, notable for its rapid leg movements while body and arms are kept largely stationary. It originated as an interval performance during the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, a moment that is still considered a significant...

 ensemble. Whereas Set dancing involves all present, whatever their skill, Step dancing is usually reserved for show, being performed only by the most talented of dancers.

The céilidh has been internationalised by the Scottish and Irish diaspora
Irish diaspora
thumb|Night Train with Reaper by London Irish artist [[Brian Whelan]] from the book Myth of Return, 2007The Irish diaspora consists of Irish emigrants and their descendants in countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa,...

s in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, where local céilidhs and traditional music competitions are held. In recent years, céilidh and traditional music competitions have been frequently won by descendants of emigrants.

Modern Scottish cèilidh

Privately organised cèilidhs are now extremely common in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, where bands are hired, usually for evening entertainment for a wedding, birthday party or other celebratory event. These bands vary in size, although are commonly made up of between 2 and 6 players. The appeal of the Scottish cèilidh is by no means limited to the younger generation, and dances vary in speed and complexity in order to accommodate most age groups and levels of ability. Most Private Schools in Scotland will also hold ceilidhs on a fairly regular basis.

Public céilidhs are also held. Universities in Scotland hold regular cèilidhs, with the University of Edinburgh providing a number of ones for students throughout each term, especially the long-running Highland Annual, the oldest cèilidh in Edinburgh, organized by the Highland Society.

Some cèilidh bands intersperse cèilidh dancing with a DJ playing disco music in order to broaden the appeal of the evening's entertainment.

English ceilidh

What is now called English ceilidh (sometimes abbreviated to eCeilidh) has many things in common with the Scottish/Irish social dance traditions and can be considered part of English Country Dance
English Country Dance
English Country Dance is a form of folk dance. It is a social dance form, which has earliest documented instances in the late 16th century. Queen Elizabeth I of England is noted to have been entertained by "Country Dancing," although the relationship of the dances she saw to the surviving dances of...

 and thus related to Contra
Contra dance
Contra dance refers to several partnered folk dance styles in which couples dance in two facing lines...

, which often has a similar high-energy feel. The dance figures are similar but tunes used tend to be slower and accentuate the beat, so dancers will often use a skip, step hop or rant step (hop on left twice, step on right, hop on right twice, step on left) rather than the smoother motion seen in Ireland and Scotland, or the walking in Contra. There is often a 'spot' halfway through the evening to give the band a rest, often involving the local Morris
Morris dance
Morris dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers. Implements such as sticks, swords, handkerchiefs and bells may also be wielded by the dancers...

 side. Like barn dance
Barn dance
A barn dance is any kind of dance held in a barn, but usually involves traditional or folk music with traditional dancing. It is a type of dance, originating in America and popular in Britain in the late 19th century and early 20th, derived from Schottische...

s, English ceilidhs always use a caller who calls the dance figures the dancers need to make. Callers and Bands are often booked independently of each other, usually the caller choosing which dances fit best with the band's repertoire of music and in consideration of the occasion and experience level of the dancers. Most of the dances involve couples staying together for the whole dance, though people often change partners after every one or two dances.

At English ceilidh events, it is not uncommon to find bands making the most of the English tradition (Old Swan Band
Old Swan Band
-Early years:Its origins lie in the early 1970s with the English country dance band Oak, one of a tiny handful at that time that combined melodeon with fiddles. Two members of Oak, husband and wife Rod and Danny Stradling , went on to form The Cotswold Liberation Front, which became The Old Swan...

 for example) or to find many bands picking up strong influences from other forms of music, for example ska
Ska
Ska |Jamaican]] ) is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s, and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae. Ska combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues...

 for Whapweasel, French traditional for Token Women, Welsh traditional for Twm Twp, Jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 for Chalktown or Florida, Funk
Funk
Funk is a music genre that originated in the mid-late 1960s when African American musicians blended soul music, jazz and R&B into a rhythmic, danceable new form of music. Funk de-emphasizes melody and harmony and brings a strong rhythmic groove of electric bass and drums to the foreground...

 Fusion
Jazz fusion
Jazz fusion is a musical fusion genre that developed from mixing funk and R&B rhythms and the amplification and electronic effects of rock, complex time signatures derived from non-Western music and extended, typically instrumental compositions with a jazz approach to lengthy group improvisations,...

 for Ceilidhography, Rock
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

 for Peeping Tom, Aardvark Ceilidh Band, Touchstone and Tickled Pink, West African and Indian for Boka Halat and self-penned material for Climax Ceilidh Band.

Cultural references

  • In the 1945 film I Know Where I'm Going!
    I Know Where I'm Going!
    I Know Where I'm Going! is a 1945 romance film by the British-based film-makers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. It stars Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey, and features Pamela Brown, Finlay Currie and Petula Clark in her fourth film appearance....

    the characters attend a céilidh.
  • In the 1983 film Local Hero
    Local Hero
    Local Hero is a 1983 Scottish comedy-drama film starring Peter Riegert and Burt Lancaster. It was directed by Bill Forsyth and produced by David Puttnam....

    the characters are shown at a céilidh.
  • The 1987 song When New York Was Irish by Terence Winch
    Terence Winch
    -Biography:Terence Patrick Winch was born in New York City in 1945. He grew up in an Irish neighborhood in the Bronx, the child of Irish immigrants. In 1971, he moved to Washington, DC, where he became involved with the Mass Transit readings in Dupont Circle. He published the first issue of Mass...

     mentions céilidhs.
  • The 1990 film The Field
    The Field
    The Field is a play written by John B. Keane, first performed in 1965. It tells the story of the hardened farmer "Bull" McCabe and his love for the land he rents. The play debuted at Dublin's Olympia Theatre in 1965, with Ray McAnally as "The Bull" and Eamon Keane as "The Bird" O'Donnell. The play...

    features a céilidh.
  • A 1992 song by the group Black 47
    Black 47
    Black 47 are a New York City based celtic rock band with Irish Republican sympathies, whose music also shows influence from reggae, hip hop, folk and jazz...

     is titled "Funky Céilí". In concert, popular Irish dancer Michelle Sheets dances live to the song during local shows in the New York City area.
  • Danny Boyle's 1994 film Shallow Grave
    Shallow Grave
    -Track listing:# Leftfield – "Shallow Grave" – 4:38# Simon Boswell – "Shallow Grave Theme" – 3:30# Nina Simone – "My Baby Just Cares for Me" – 3:38# Simon Boswell – "Laugh Riot" – 3:02# Leftfield – "Release the Dubs" – 5:45...

    features Ewan McGregor
    Ewan McGregor
    Ewan Gordon McGregor is a Scottish actor. He has had success in mainstream, indie, and art house films. McGregor is perhaps best known for his roles as heroin addict Mark Renton in the drama Trainspotting , young Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy , and poet Christian in the...

     and Kerry Fox at a céilidh.
  • In the 1997 film Titanic the third class passengers hold a céilidh which Leonardo DiCaprio
    Leonardo DiCaprio
    Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio is an American actor and film producer. He has received many awards, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his performance in The Aviator , and has been nominated by the Academy Awards, Screen Actors Guild and the British Academy of Film and Television...

     and Kate Winslet
    Kate Winslet
    Kate Elizabeth Winslet is an English actress and occasional singer. She has received multiple awards and nominations. She was the youngest person to accrue six Academy Award nominations, and won the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Reader...

    's characters attend.
  • In the 2000 - 2005 BBC TV series Monarch of the Glen the characters are shown at a céilidh
  • In 2002's The Magdalene Sisters
    The Magdalene Sisters
    The Magdalene Sisters is a 2002 film written and directed by Peter Mullan about teenage girls who were sent to Magdalene Asylums, otherwise known as the 'Magdalene Laundries': homes for women who were labeled as "fallen" by their families or society...

    a céilidh is portrayed.
  • The characters in the 2003 film The Boys from County Clare
    The Boys from County Clare
    The Boys From County Clare is a 2003 Irish comedy/drama film about a céilí band from Liverpool that travels to Ireland to compete in a céilí competition in County Clare...

    participate in a céilidh band competition.
  • In the 2006 film The Wind That Shakes The Barley
    The Wind That Shakes the Barley (film)
    The Wind That Shakes the Barley is a 2006 Irish war drama film directed by Ken Loach, set during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War...

    ,
    the characters are shown at a céilidh.
  • The popular Celtic musical team Celtic Woman
    Celtic Woman
    Celtic Woman is an all-female musical ensemble conceived and assembled by Sharon Browne and David Downes, a former musical director of the Irish stage show Riverdance...

     describes a céilidh in their popular tour song "At The Céilí," a live recording of which appears on their 2007 album Celtic Woman: A New Journey
    Celtic Woman: A New Journey
    Celtic Woman: A New Journey is the second on-stage production by the group Celtic Woman. The show was filmed at Slane Castle in County Meath, Ireland and featured Hayley Westenra as a new addition to the group...

    .
  • Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan
    Shane MacGowan
    Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan is an Irish musician and singer, best known as the original singer and songwriter of The Pogues.-History:...

     features the song "Céilidh Cowboy" on his The Crock Of Gold
    The Crock of Gold
    The Crock of Gold was the second full length album by Shane MacGowan and the Popes and was released in November, 1997. The Crock of Gold followed The Snake, MacGowan's first solo album after the breakup of The Pogues, and was less critically acclaimed than its predecessor...

    album.
  • The Richard Thompson song "Johnny's Far Away" describes a couple who are unfaithful while the husband travels with a céilidh band.
  • The band Real McKenzies
    Real McKenzies
    The Real McKenzies is a North American Celtic punk band founded in 1992 and based in Vancouver, British Columbia.In addition to writing and performing original music, Real McKenzies perform traditional Scottish songs, giving them a new punk-influenced sound...

     song "Céilidh" describes the practice.
  • The word "Ceili" in the name of the band Ceili Rain
    Ceili Rain
    Ceili Rain is a celtic music influenced Syracuse, New York based band led by Bob Halligan, Jr., founded in May 1995. As the group’s founder Bob Halligan, Jr. explains, in Gaelic, the word "Céili" means "party", specifically one with live musicians, dancing, and general merriment for an all-ages...

     is explicitly meant to invoke the céilidh spirit.
  • The Philadelphia Céilí Group
    Philadelphia Céilí Group
    The Philadelphia Céilí Group is a music organization in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, known for an annual Philadelphia Céilí Festival. The Group claims that its festival is the only in the area that is "truly a traditional festival" and it is "one of the oldest continuous traditional Irish music...

     is a music organization known for its traditional Irish music and dance festivals.
  • The 2011 movie The Guard, the main character takes his dying mother to see a a ceilidh band.

See also

  • Ballroom dancing
  • Feis
    Féis
    A Feis or Fèis is a traditional Gaelic arts and culture festival. The plural forms are feiseanna and fèisean .-History:In Ancient Ireland communities placed great importance on local festivals, where Gaels could come together in song, dance, music, theatre and sport...

  • Fest noz
    Fest Noz
    A Fest Noz is a Breton traditional festival, with dancing in groups and live musicians playing acoustic instruments....

  • Scottish country dancing
  • Twmpath
    Twmpath
    Twmpath is a Welsh word literally meaning a hump or tump, once applied to the mound or village green upon which the musicians sat and played for the community to dance. It is used today to mean a Welsh version of the barn dance or céilidh....

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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