Defining Culture and Celtic Culture
Doing the research for this essay, it was hard not to admit defeat. There was no one culture that could be pointed out as distinctly Celtic today or for that matter in ancient times. The aim of this short essay is to define culture and Celtic culture from my point of view.
The first thing that should be done is to pinpoint a single definition of culture. This is not as easy as it sounds. Culture, as I found out from my research, means different things to different people. It changes depending on the perspective of the person defining it, whether you are an archeologist, a linguist, a psychologist, or even a philosopher. Starting with the dictionary, culture is the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought. It is the predominating attitudes and behavior that characterize the functioning of a group or organization. This is considered a broad definition, another definition that is broad is that culture or civilization is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. From the historical point of view, the culture of a people is their social heritage, a complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, techniques of tool fabrication and use, and method of communication from one generation to another. To anthropologists, the acts of individuals are not considered in isolation but as members of a society and call the sum total of these modes of behavior “culture”. Psychologists put more emphasis on culture as a problem-solving device. To them, the psychologists, culture is the total equipment of technique, mechanical, mental, and moral, by use of which the people of a given period try to attain their ends. Archeologists see culture as a product or artifact, culture to them is the sum total of all that is artificial. It is the complete outfit of tools, and habits of living, which are invented by man and then passed on from one generation to another. Trying to pinpoint the definition of culture for the purpose of this paper was very hard, in the end I chose to go with the broad definition. Culture is the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, art, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought. To look at a culture fully (and here this is from my point of view) you must look at it in two parts, material culture and literary culture. Material culture includes all the social structures that the society left behind like houses, burials, roads, tools and artifacts as well as what made this social structure possible like economy and the legal system. Literary culture may include mythology, literature, religious beliefs, folklore, and arts.
Defining Celtic Culture
The next step is to define what makes a Celtic culture, and again this is not something that is easy to do. As it was already mentioned in the introduction, each of the so called Celtic cultures was unique, they may have shared some characteristics that were the same but if you look closely each culture was distinct depending on where they were and how the indigenous people reacted to the elements of the Celtic culture that was imposed on them or adopted by them. Another thing that is important to realize is that what we know of the Celts needs to be divided along two lines, the Continental Celts, and the Insular Celts. The insular Celts left us a wealth of literary culture, and not much in the way of material culture, while the continental Celts left us some material culture and not much in the way of literary culture. So how do we define Celtic culture? Celtic culture is really a conglomerate of cultures that have a Celtic flavor. Moreover, each of these cultures is unique to its place of origin and the people who made it up, as well as the time period in which it could be called Celtic. This brings us to the real question of what is “Celtic”, the simple answer is any culture that at one time or another had spoken a Celtic language and showed some signs of being influenced by the Hallstatt or La Téne culture. As we all know nothing is simple when we talk of the Celts…
 “culture.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 18 Mar. 2009. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/culture>
 Wayne Untereiner, Alfred G. Meyer, A.L. Kroeber, and Clyde Kluckhohn. Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum, 1952. Questia. 22 June 2009. http://www.Questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=100067373 p.81
 Untereiner, Meyer, Kroeber, and Kluckhohn. p.90
 Untereiner, Meyer, Kroeber, and Kluckhohn. p.95
 Untereiner, Meyer, Kroeber, and Kluckhohn. p.105
 Untereiner, Meyer, Kroeber, and Kluckhohn. p.125