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    The Celtic Ranch

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    Fight the Chill of Summer

    Summertime tourists in shorts, sandals, and bikini tops? Not so much. The warm breezes of summer seem to have overlooked the Emerald Isle completely this year. As Ireland reports the coldest and wettest summer on record, residents and visitors alike are lighting fires and bundling up to fight the chill of summer. The official weather reporting stations in Ireland all noted their coldest July temps in decades. Gale force winds and dangerous flooding have also occurred across the country this season. The good news is all that wind can come in handy in terms of creating energy. In fact, the Irish have always dealt with their wet and windy weather with heart and optimism and humor. While Ireland is not exactly known for calm and balmy weather, the typical summer forecast is sunnier and warmer than 2015 has shown. Residents look forward to what they anecdotally call "the two weeks of summer" but this year the wet and chilly spring has kept its grip on the forecast and now it is already time to plan for autumn's expected rainy, golden days. Happily for visitors, nearly every activity in hearty Ireland continues on no matter what the weather. Why cancel and hide out indoors when you can bundle up and still enjoy the green beauty of the isle? Invest in a waterproof pair of boots and go hiking the trails and beaches. Grab a stout raincoat and enjoy horseback riding and sightseeing. Find a good cap and scarf and climb aboard a boat for a day of fishing. Exploring an ancient ruin in the rain? All the more romantic. So we missed summertime this time around in Ireland? No sweat. Bring on the new sweater designs and boot liners. Layer up and try out a new slick jacket. Bundle up the baby in cozy sweaters and head out for a day enjoying the nature and beauty and authentic wildness. The sunshine and warmth you will find in Ireland has far more to do with attitude than forecast anyway.

    Find a Penny...

    copper_irish_penny_euro_bracelet_website_clipped_rev_1 Find a penny… do you pick it up? A penny may seem almost worthless these days. But a lucky penny might be the difference between fortune and destitution if you believe the legends. Though one measly cent may hardly seem worth bending down to pluck off the ground, old Irish lore tells us these found pennies belong to the “good people” and have been left there to tempt the finder to good fortune. Depending upon how you feel about fairies, pixies, leprechauns and other little creatures, you may either spit on the coin and throw it into the bushes in order to secure some good luck from them. Or you might want to pocket it and consider it a gift.

    "Find a penny, pick it up. All day long you'll have good luck. Give it to a faithful friend and your luck will never end."
    A story that is definitely minted in truth is the long-practiced Irish concept of “Luck Money”. It was common at fairs and markets to return a penny to the buyer to wish them luck with the new purchase. Some chose to return more than a mere penny, securing their status as big spenders and generous patrons. The Irish penny dates back to 1928 when a coinage committee, founded after Ireland gained its independence in 1926, sought to mint Ireland’s own money to distinguish from Britain’s monetary system. Poet William Butler Yeats was the chair of the committee and the winning design came from the Book of Kells. One side features an Irish harp, a national symbol, and the other a hen and chicks, to symbolize the national economy. The Irish penny, made from copper, was minted from 1928-1968 and weighs about one ounce. After production ceased, many of the copper coins were melted down, making authentic Irish pennies a real find today. A lucky find, you could say. Many of those rare coins are found in America as it was a common custom for loved ones to place a penny in an emigrant’s pocket with the blessing, “May your pockets never be empty.” The Irish-Americans held on to their Irish pennies as a connection to the homeland.

    Ten Celtic Wedding Traditions

    For extra luck, a lucky shamrock made of lucky horseshoes! For extra luck, a lucky shamrock made of lucky horseshoes! Few things in our modern world are as much about tradition as the marriage ceremony. If you want to throw it all the way back to Celtic times, consider these ten Celtic wedding traditions. Some are still familiar today, while others seem from another time entirely. Isn't it romantic? 1. Tying the knot. Celtic couples literally tied the knot as part of their commitment. A beautiful cord was wrapped around their clasped hands as a symbol of their lives joined together forever. Sometimes the best things do have strings attached. 2. Claddagh ring. This sweet symbol has been a part of Irish romance for ages. Worn in certain ways to denote the wearer's relationship status, on the wedding day it is placed on the left hand to face the heart. Sigh...true love. 3. Horseshoes. The Irish consider horses a lucky animal so carrying a horseshoe on such an important day seems logical, if a bit clunky. Modern brides tuck horseshoe charms into a bouquet or bracelet. It's a lucky charm, so to speak. 4. Blue wedding gowns. It was British Queen Victoria who started the white wedding gown rage. Before her time it was a pale blue dress that symbolized purity. Bring back that beautiful color as tradition and make your guests wonder. 5. Irish Grushie. Guests throw coins at the bride and groom in a flurry of well wishes for the future. What's not to love about people throwing money at you? 6. Jumping the broom. This ancient Celtic tradition was thought to solidify the separation between home and the wild. The higher the leap, the stronger the marriage. Plus it just sounds fun. 7. Marriage bell. The couple is presented with a bell to be displayed in their home and used to call a truce in any marital argument. Saved by the bell is not a bad idea. 8. Unity Candle. This tradition has stuck around, and for good reason. The symbolic joining of two families into one flame is powerful. 9. Loving Cup (Quaich). This two-handled cup is shared between the bride and groom and sometimes among members of the two families to symbolize all of the sharing that is to come. Everyone can drink to that. 10. Tartan Plaids and Kilts. We have said it before and we will say it again. You want your groom to look his best on your wedding day and everyone loves a well-dressed man in a kilt.

    The Magical Fairy Wish Door Locket

    The Story of the Magical Fairy Door Locket Once upon a time, a young maid was walking in the woods. She came upon a clearing, and in the clearing there were all sorts of beautiful flowers. There were violets, primroses, lavender, roses, daffodils, iris, tulips, and even some flowers she had never seen before. The flowers were in all colors of the rainbow (and some colors not in our rainbow). She was so enchanted with the beauty of the place she stopped to enjoy it. She sat on a little stump right in the center and daydreamed. After she had sat on the stump for a while she fell asleep, what the maiden didn’t know was that she had stumbled upon a magical place where the fairies come and go from their world to ours. Magical Fairy door locket Magical Fairy door locket[/caption] While she was asleep she dreamed that a tiny little person came from inside a tiny door located at the bottom of the very stump she sat on. The little person had wings, green skin, and a pretty twinkle in its silvery eyes. It told her it would grant her wishes, as long as she wrote them on a tiny piece of paper and placed them inside the door, or whispered them into the door. It also said she could place a picture of her true love inside, and the fairies would protect him from harm. The little fairy went back inside the door, and as it shut the maiden awoke. She stretched, and as she was preparing to leave the clearing, she noticed a sparkle on the ground. She stooped and picked up a little locket, shaped like a door. Attached to the locket there was a mysterious note that said simply “may all your dreams come true”. The maiden realized she had not been dreaming, but had, in fact, met up with a fairy. She took the magical locket, and kept it full of her wishes, and dreams, and a picture of her true love. What will you put in your fairy door?

    Party Like a Celt

    You don’t need to look far for a reason to party like a Celt. With eight sacred days in addition to the typical Church holidays like Christmas and Easter, Celts are always either planning a party or recovering from one. Here’s the yearly run-down for special occasions to celebrate: February 1 – St. Brigid’s Day, marking the beginning of Spring March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day, also the Vernal Equinox May 1 – Bealtine, or May Day, marking the beginning of Summer June 21 – Summer Solstice mid-August – Lughnasa, marking the beginning of harvest September 21 – Autumnal Equinox October 31-November 2 – Samhain, marking the sacred period between All Hallow’s Eve and All Souls Day December 21 – Winter Solstice But you don’t need to wait for a special day to host a celebration. Put out the invites for a “céilidh” (“a visit” or kitchen party), a féis (festival), a luadhadh (a milling frolic) or a bogadh (an immersion dance) and you can party like a Celt any old day of the year. Just make sure you have the appropriate food, drink, stories, and music on hand. Invite your favorite harpist, fiddler or bagpiper. Fire up the kettle with an Irish stew or colcannon. Break out your finest Irish whiskey and chill the glasses for the Guinness. Tell your favorite Celtic story, or just throw such a great party that it becomes the stuff of legend itself.