Celtic Yuletide concert Friday night in Sidney

Cookeilidh comes to the Mary Winspear Centre Dec. 12.

From left: Dave Cook

Nothing captures our modern Christmas spirit more effectively than the high energy and haunting melodies of Celtic Yuletide music and the lively spirit of Celtic dance.

Sidney will have an opportunity to embrace that spirit of the season when Cookeilidh, A Celtic Yuletide takes the stage at the Charlie White Theatre on December 12.

“It’s a chance for people to bring in the season through laughter, singing, great music … a chance to tap your feet and feel the spirit of Christmas,” said Kim Cook of Cookeilidh.

Of course, one needn’t search too far beneath our Christmas traditions to find the roots of Celtic Pagan rituals and beliefs.  In fact, the rapid propagation of Christianity throughout Europe in the first millennium was largely due to the willingness of Christian leaders to incorporate the rituals, beliefs, and customs of other religions and make them their own. And none of the ancient religions were more assimilated than those held in the lands of shamrocks and thistle.

“Back in Ireland, it was a festival of light after the harvest,” said Kim Cook, one of Cookleilidh’s four talented musicians. “It was dark and they would light candles and celebrate with music, food, stories, poetry, dance … and yes, maybe a little drinking.”

“We do a lot of the traditional music, to be sure,” said Dave Cook, the group’s leader.

“But we’ve modernized some of it to bring in a little variety. In all, we just have a lot of fun, and it’s infectious … people leave the shows with a spring in their step and a smile on their face.”

Beyond the music, the addition of the O’Connor O’Brian Irish Dancers is sure to make the evening even more magical.

“We’ve worked with them for the past six or seven years and they’ve choreographed their dances to our music so that it’s a seamless combination of dance and music,” said Dave Cook. “They are tremendously talented.”

“The music is ageless,” said Kim Cook. “The modern twist that we’ve added to some of the tunes manages to capture the interest of the younger crowd without losing the audience that loves the more traditional versions.”

The band has been together for eight years and has just released A Blarney Kiss, their latest CD.

“Celtic music and Christmas is a natural fit,” said Kim Cook. “Christmas is a time of celebration, and anytime that there’s a party, the Irish are going to love it and be right there singing and dancing. That’s what we’re all about.”

— Tim Collins/News staff