An Giblean

Cha b’ àbhaist dha na Gàidheil ainmean nam mìosan a chleachdadh dìreach mar a bhios sinne gan cleachdadh san latha an-diugh. Chunnaic iad na mìosan gu ìre mar ràithean, gun fhad suidhichte. Bruidhnidh sinn fhìn mu “a long winter” no “a short summer” – ‘s ann caran mar sin a bha e leis na mìosan.  B’ fheudar dhan mhìosachan a bhith sùbailte, freagarrach do chearcall beatha nam beathaichean agus do dh’obraichean caochlach àiteachaidh no iasgaich.

Ge b’ e dè cho fada no goirid ‘s a bha e, ‘s e mìos mu dheireadh na leth-bhliadhna dorcha a bha anns a’ Ghiblean, a’ coimhead air adhart mu dheireadh thall gus an dàrna leth den bhliadhna,  gus na mìosan soilleir. Chan eil freumhan an ainm ro chinnteach, ach ‘s dòcha gu bheil e ceangailte ri “giblean”, neach luideach –dèanadh sin tuigse, às dèidh geamhraidh fhada chruaidh.

Tha abairt no dhà ann ceangailte ris a’ mhìos seo. Tha “rot na Càisge” air gèiltean a thuath a thig gu h-àbhaisteach fad trì làithean aig toiseach a’ Ghiblein, agus bha “Cailleach” air an t-seachdain ann am meadhan a’ mhìosa. ‘S e “càileach” no “cailleach” a bha air sguab mu dheireadh na buana, a chaidh a sgeadachadh agus a chumail na crochadh air cnag gu treabhadh an earraich, agus an uair sin a bheathachadh dha na h-eich.

Bha Là na Gocaireachd aig na Gàidheil cuideachd, agus bha ainm a bharrachd air: Là Ruith na Cuthaige. Sin latha nuair a chuireas tu neach air gnothaich gun fheum, mar gus nead na cuthaige a lorg (nach eil aice idir). Caran mar “wild goose chase”. Agus gu tric, mar am bliadhna, tachraidh a’ Chàisg anns a’ Ghiblean, adhbhar eile subhachhas a dhèanamh, le buaidh an solais air an dorchadas.

Tha mi ‘n dòchas nach bi sibhse a’ ruith às dèidh na cuthaige a’ chiad latha den Ghiblean am bliadhna, agus gum bi a’ Chàisg shona agaibh uile!

 

April

The Gaels didn’t use the names of the months quite as we do today. Thy saw the months rather like seasons, without a fixed length. We ourselves speak of “a long winter” or “a short summer” – it was a bit like that with the months. The calendar had to be flexible, to adapt to the life-cycle of the animals and the seasonal activities of agriculture and fishing.

However long or short it was, April was the last month in the first half of the Celtic year, the dark half, looking forwards at last to the second half, to the bright months. The roots of the name are unclear, but may be linked to the word ‘giblean’, a ragged person, which would make sense after a long hard winter.

There are one or two expressions connected to this month. The “rot na Càisge” – Easter gale, is the name given to the three-day northerlies that tend to come at the beginning of April, and the middle week of the month was called ‘Cailleach’ – old woman. “Càileach” or “cailleach” was the name given to the last sheaf of the harvest, which was decorated and kept hanging on a peg till the spring ploughing and then fed to the horses.

The Gaels had April Fools’ Day too, and it also had another name, Là Ruith na Chuthaige, Day of the Cuckoo Run. That’s when you send someone on a fool’s errand, like going to find the cuckoo’s nest (which it doesn’t have). A bit like a wild goose chase. And of course Easter often falls in April, another reason for celebrating the triumph of light over darkness.

I hope none of you will be running after the cuckoo on April 1st this year, and that you will all have a happy Easter!