Mythological and Historical Terms in Galician

Galician, a language spoken in the autonomous community of Galicia in northwestern Spain, is rich in history and mythology. Learning the mythological and historical terms in Galician can provide a deeper understanding of the culture and folklore that are integral to the region. This article explores some of these terms, their origins, and their usage in modern Galician, accompanied by real-life examples to enhance comprehension.

The Influence of Celtic Mythology

Galicia has a strong Celtic influence, reflected in its mythology and language. The term “mouros”, for example, is frequently used in Galician folklore. Mouros are mythical beings thought to live underground, guarding magnificent treasures. They are akin to the dwarves or goblins found in other European mythologies.

O solpor nos montes estaba cheo de mouros danzando. (The sunset on the mountains was full of mouros dancing.)

Another term from Galician mythology is “meigas”, which refers to witches believed to possess supernatural powers. This term is deeply embedded in Galician culture, often used to describe wise women who are in tune with nature.

As meigas usan herbas para facer os seus feitizos. (The meigas use herbs to perform their spells.)

Historical Terms and Their Impact

Galician history is marked by various events and figures that have shaped the language. The term “Reino de Galicia” (Kingdom of Galicia) is a historical term that refers to the medieval kingdom which covered parts of what is now northern Portugal and Galicia. This term evokes a sense of pride and cultural identity among Galicians.

O Reino de Galicia foi unha potencia na Idade Media. (The Kingdom of Galicia was a power during the Middle Ages.)

Another significant historical term is “Irmandiños”, referring to the participants of a series of revolts in the 15th century against the local nobility. These revolts are a symbol of resistance and resilience in Galician history.

Os Irmandiños loitaron por unha Galicia máis xusta. (The Irmandiños fought for a fairer Galicia.)

Legendary Figures and Heroes

Galician folklore is also home to legendary figures such as “Breogán”, the mythical Celtic king who is said to have founded Galicia. The Tower of Hercules in A Coruña, one of the oldest lighthouses still in use, is linked to the legend of Breogán.

Breogán construíu unha torre tan alta que podía ver Irlanda desde a cima. (Breogán built a tower so tall that he could see Ireland from the top.)

Another notable figure is “María Pita”, a heroine from the 16th century known for her role in defending A Coruña against the English Armada. Her bravery is celebrated in Galician history and folklore.

María Pita é lembrada como unha heroína en Galicia. (María Pita is remembered as a heroine in Galicia.)

Galician Language Revival

In recent years, there has been a significant effort to revive and promote the Galician language, often referred to as the “rexurdimento” (revival). This movement aims to preserve Galician culture and language, considering them essential parts of the region’s identity.

O rexurdimento axudou a preservar a lingua e cultura galegas. (The revival helped to preserve the Galician language and culture.)


Understanding the mythological and historical terms in Galician not only enhances one’s vocabulary but also provides insights into the rich cultural tapestry of Galicia. Whether it’s the mythical mouros or the legendary María Pita, each term carries with it stories and significance that are unique to Galician heritage. By learning these terms, language enthusiasts and cultural scholars can appreciate the depth and richness of Galicia’s linguistic and cultural landscape.

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