It can be challenging to find holiday music that isn't merely cheery, kitschy, or weirdly dark, leading many including myself to steer clear of it (while enjoying when certain renditions come up on the radio). Of course, it's hard to go wrong with jazz, but sometimes a person needs variety. This album just might fit the ticket.
Canadian musician and self-made record label owner Loreena McKennitt, best known for her 1997 song "The Mummer's Dance," has continued to produce great things, including this unique and wonderful collection of traditional old world holiday music, Midwinter Night's Dream (2008). It sometimes sounds as if it could be the original soundtrack to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, such as what you might imagine the elves of Mirkwood or the hobbits to play on rustic instruments during feasts.
Often but not always Celtic, McKennitt's music on this as well as her other works utilizes instruments, languages, and musical traditions from around the world. Just a few of the instruments listed in the liner notes of A Midwinter Night's Dream include mandola, marimbula, sentir, hurdy gurdy (I hope that's not a health condition), celtic bouzouki, Greek lyra and lute, tabla, accordion, shawm, uilleann, pipes, and whistles. Far from eccentric, however, the result of this is beautiful, flowing, incredibly evocative compositions with elements of medieval, Celtic folk, middle eastern, and hymnal.
If you enjoy this, try out McKennitt's other, non-holiday oriented works:
Check out some of our Celtic holiday music by other artists, too:
Nice blog! I really like Loreena McKennitt's "A Midwinter Night's Dream" and, possibly even more, her "A Winter Garden: Five Songs for the Season." The Christmas Revels also do a nice mix of traditional European songs and poetry for the solstice. I'll look forward to checking out some of your Celtic holiday music suggestions. Thanks!