October 25, 2005
Source: St. Francis Xavier University:
StFX professor available to speak on Halloween, an important date in the Celtic calendar
Halloween, an ancient Celtic festival
ANTIGONISH, NS --- St. Francis Xavier University Celtic Studies professor Dr. Ken Nilsen is available to talk with media about the traditions of Halloween.
Dr. Nilsen, a professor in the Celtic Studies Department, can talk about All Hallow's Eve, one of the important dates in the Celtic calendar. It was an ancient Celtic festival and in ancient times, the end of the Celtic year. In going from the old to the new year, people believed you were in neither, but rather on the threshold. It was a good time to look into the future. It was believed to be a wild time when spirits may be on the loose.
Dr. Nilsen teaches a course on the folklore of Ireland and Scotland, which deals with studies in the oral traditions of Gaelic Ireland and Scotland. The course touches on such topics as calendar customs, types of folklore, the storyteller, folklore collectors, folksong traditions, clan legends, the fairies, and psychic phenomenon.
He is a graduate of Brooklyn College and has a master's degree and PhD in Celtic Studies from Harvard University. He teaches courses in Scottish and Irish Gaelic, Celtic literature and folklore. His research interests include the Celtic languages in North America.
Gaelic was first taught at StFX in 1891 and the Celtic Studies Department was established in the 1960s.