Druids were members of the high-ranking professional class in ancient Celtic cultures. While perhaps best remembered as religious leaders, they were also legal authorities, adjudicators, lorekeepers, medical professionals, and political advisors. While the druids are reported to have been literate, they are believed to have been prevented by doctrine from recording their knowledge in written form, thus they left no written accounts of themselves. They are however attested in some detail by their contemporaries from other cultures, such as the Romans and the Greeks.
The earliest known references to the druids date to the fourth century BCE and the oldest detailed description comes from Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico (50s BCE). They were also described by later Greco-Roman writers such as Cicero, Tacitus and Pliny the Elder. Following the Roman invasion of Gaul, the druid orders were suppressed by the Roman government under the 1st century CE emperors Tiberius and Claudius, and had disappeared from the written record by the 2nd century.
Trees had a special place in Celtic culture. Almost all of the trees found in the Celtic countries were revered and people believed that these gentle giants had special powers. These sacred Celtic trees served as an abode of fairies and spirits.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the calendar used by the druids was associated with trees. The year was divided into forty unequal segments. Four days - the autumn and spring equinox, the summer and winter solstice, were devoted to the Olive, Oak, Birch and Beech respectively.
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