A significantly newer tradition, the Atlanta Celtic Christmas Concert held annually at Emory University, celebrates the Celtic roots of the Yuletide season. James Flannery, a professor of performing arts at Emory and an organizer of the event from its start, says the concert also highlights the Celtic influences of holiday observances from Appalachia, originally settled by Scotch-Irish immigrants.
"It's a variety show that involves poetry, music, dance, stories and songs celebrating the holiday season through the traditions of Celtic countries, and in turn, their connections with the South," Flannery says.
Featured performers for the Celtic Concert's ninth outing include the Buddy O'Reilly Band, the Appalachian folk group Nonesuch, harpist Kelly Stewart and local Irish and Scottish folk dancers.
The show also brings back the mysteriously primal Mummers, straw-hatted mischief-makers from the Irish tradition, which Flannery says help to highlight the pagan underside of Christmas.
Flannery lends his own voice to the concert, singing an arrangement of the familiar Appalachian carol, "I Wonder as I Wander."
Noted Irish fiddler James Kelly brings a note of reverence to the concert, performing a traditional Irish lament for those who died Sept. 11.
The ninth annual Atlanta Celtic Christmas Concert is Dec. 14-15 at 8:15 p.m. at Glenn Memorial Auditorium on the campus of Emory University. $15 advance, $17.50 at the door, $5 for children 12 and younger. Tickets available at the Emory Box Office. 404-727-6464. www.emory.edu/COLLEGE/WBYEATS