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Types of Celtic Christmas Music

This article was written by Marc Gunn and reprinted from the Celtic Music Magazine.

Awesome Celtic Christmas Playlist
Click to buy some of the best Celtic Christmas albums online

I spent a lot of time over the past few weeks trying to determine what it is that makes “Celtic Christmas music“. It’s all part of my effort to promote the Celtic bands on my latest compilation CD, A Celtic Christmas. I listened to some of the top Celtic Christmas albums online to try and figure out what is popular and what isn’t… what is awesome… and what sucks.

When I compiled songs for A Celtic Christmas, as well as music for my Celtic Christmas Podcast, my intent was to capture the mood of Christmas with Celtic music.

You see, when I hear the term “Celtic Christmas”, I think of Christmas music with a Celtic theme. Sounds reasonable, right? Well, if you try buying Celtic Christmas music on iTunes or Amazon, you might purchase something that is neither.

I found that there are four distinct types of albums that are defined as “Celtic Christmas music”:

  1. Piano or guitar music, sometimes that is not Celtic but has a decent mellow Christmas sound
  2. Harp music which by its nature is Celtic and Christmas, and usually pretty mellow,
  3. Christmas music by Celtic bands that aren’t very Celtic-sounding, and
  4. The beautiful fusion of Celtic and Christmas music

In fact, I’d say that was the correct rank as far as popularity is concerned, and as far as I can tell.

I’m gonna be honest, I’m not a fan of most of the “Celtic Christmas” music out there. There’s a lot of crap. Yes, I find the piano/guitar music to be crap. It might be Christmas music, but there’s nothing Celtic about it. How lame is that! It just makes me feel sad for the people who actually want to find good Celtic Christmas music.

While I like the harp, and we autoharpers often liken ourselves to the harpers out there, the mellow Celtic Christmas music is not what gets me excited. Yes, it has its place. In fact, I could easily be happy with some nice, mellow harp Christmas music playing on Christmas eve while spending time with my family. But in general, I want to hear the upbeat Christmas music.

Number three reminds me of the Celtic Thunder Christmas album. I listened to that a couple days ago. It’s good pop Christmas music. But aside from the band’s name and their Irish origins, there’s nothing overly Celtic about their Christmas album. I was disappointed. There are a bunch of Christmas albums like this.

The fourth in that list is what I’m looking for when I want Celtic Christmas music. It’s what I tried to create with A Celtic Christmas (see the promo video). I’m still trying to find out what the REAL Celtic Christmas albums are, the fun ones, the sing-alongs. Those are what I want to hear, but they aren’t topping the charts.

I’m still listening to some Celtic Christmas album, but here is a list of Awesome Celtic Christmas Music Playlist. It includes music by the Irish Rovers, The Chieftains, Bonnie Rideout, Cherish the Ladies, The Rogues, The Gothard Sisters, and more.

I’d love your thoughts and feedback.

What kind of Celtic Christmas music do you enjoy?