Thursday, May 3, 2012

Is May The Start of the Irish Summer or Not?

Teal seaglass pendant with flower detail (sold)
 Here's a real Irish conundrum for you. May is here, and in this corner of the world it is officially the start of Summer...right?? Well, according to Met Eireann, our national meteorological service, in line with the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, the summer months are June, July and August. Yet according to the Irish calendar (and popular, local understanding it would seem,) Summer is indeed May, June and July.
Celtic, Connemara marble keychain

 I don't believe we're just being awkward or trying to confuse the rest of the world. Nor are we exercising our very Irish sense of individuality...hmmm, well, maybe there is a bit of that.... But the Gaelic calendar dates back to the Celtic system of time keeping.

Click here for: the full story from good ol' Wiki but in  simple terms, in pre-Christian Ireland, the solstices (longest and shortest days of the year,)  fell bang in the middle of Summer and Winter, not at the start. Likewise the two days of the year where we have 12 hours of daylight and 12 of night, the equinoxes, fell in the middle of Spring and Autumn. Hence, from a cultural stance, with the Summer solstice falling on 20th or 21st June each year, the month of May heralds the beginning of Summer.

So be it. Summer is here! In fact the sun even came out today to prove it.


  1. ...That may be confusing for us continental people, but I'm quite happy today the sun shine in Dublin!!!

  2. I can't get my head around it, I grew up in Britain and May 1st always seems far too early to be considered summer, likewise Feb 1st being the first day of spring always makes me laugh! Plus, does this mean August is Autumn?! It's often one of the warmest months of the year! Other than that though, there does seem to be logic in the Gaelic calender with where longest days and equinoxes fall.

    1. yep it is a bit mad. But that's where the term midsummer comes from - the summer solstice was (or is) literally mid summer in the Celtic calendar. The only one that has ever made sense to me is that winter is Nov, Dec, January. Sure feels like it!

  3. Yeah...when my son went to the irish school,and he started to learn about seasons-when each seasons starts-I was very confused.At first I thought...maybe he don't understand english?....;)))