Each fall, Bethlehem hosts an event called the Celtic Classic; a festival showcasing and celebrating the Celtic culture. It includes everything from live music and dancing to strength and haggis eating competitions. Although I’ve lived in Bethlehem for four years, I’ve never attended the festival- until this year.
I am someone with a fairly rich Irish family background. Despite having familial roots in multiple European countries, with a last name like Lynch I’ve always felt most connected with my Irish heritage. Last year, I was lucky enough to spend four months
studying abroad in Galway, Ireland; a city that was founded in part by the Lynch clan. When your last name is emblazoned on a flag in the town square and a castle in the city center, it’s hard not to feel at home. Studying abroad was a life changing experience that brought me closer to my heritage than ever before, but that was a year ago. Since then, I have once again become accustomed to all of my American habits, losing some of the Irish customs I had picked up during my time there. Attending the Celtic Classic helped revive the passion I had for the Celtic culture while I was experiencing it first hand.
When I first arrived at the festival, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who had dressed up for the occasion. I have never seen that many kilts! My friend Kallie and I headed over to the tents to shop around. I refrained from buying a kilt although I was tempted! In one tent I found some items that bore the Lynch family name and once again I felt that sense of belonging that I had grown accustomed to in Galway. We continued to walk around and eventually decided to stop and get some food. They had so many options it was hard to choose. I ended up getting the Irish nachos- thin spiral chips covered in gravy, cheese, and lamb. Yum! My friend tried the fish and chips, which were also delicious.
We took our food and headed over to the main stage to see what was going on. As we got closer, I began to hear a distantly familiar sound: the hard shoes of an Irish Step Dancer. Sure enough, there on the stage were a group of girls wearing huge curls and bright dresses dancing an Irish jig. Once again I was reminded of a time when my pride in my heritage was at an all time high. I used to be one of those girls. I took Irish Step dancing classes for about four years during my childhood. It seems so long ago that I forget about it sometimes, but watching those dancers perform brought me back to the first time in my life that I felt connected to my heritage. We stayed at the main stage for their entire performance as well as for the band that came on after them. We had a lot of fun talking to the people around us and clapping along to the beat. There’s something about Celtic music that just makes you have to tap your foot. Eventually it got cold and the festival came to an end, so we headed home after a day of food and fun.
One of the biggest takeaways I got from attending the festival was the friendliness of the people. Multiple people came up and talked to us without prompting- the Irish truly are the friendliest people in the world! I really enjoyed my day at the Celtic Classic and, although it made me miss my time in Ireland, it reminded me to be proud of where I come from. My only regret is that I didn’t go until my senior year! I encourage everyone in the area to experience this festival, whether you have Celtic roots or not. Hopefully I will see you there next year, I will definitely be back!