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Title: Review of Harrowven, J., 'Origins of Festivals and Feasts', Whitstable, Pryor Publications, 1996, x, 180pp., with line drawings by Len Strasman, facsimile of 1980 edn, published by Kaye and Ward, £8.50 paper.
Contributor(s): Ryan, John S (author)
Publication Date: 1997
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Abstract: This pleasing volume, written for the later and secularised twentieth century in England, is a sensible and sprightly account of various customs, superstitions, games and seasonal things that children can make, thereby bonding themselves into ancient traditions, many of which have origins that are minimally Christian. The book follows the style of A. R. Wright and T. E. Lones (eds.), 'British Calendar Customs' (1940), as both text and bibliography make clear. Thus festivals are both treated chronologically throughout the year and divided into two groups - movable and fixed events/ observances. The succinct Introduction makes these points well and in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, as it chronicles the progressive Victorian dislike for (regional) saints' days and the consequential emergence of the more national Bank Holidays. Equally intriguing at a personal level is Jean Harrowven's purpose of gently subverting the computer age: "a fresh community spirit will, hopefully, emerge so that once again we can experience the revels and gaiety of long ago." (p. x). Very wisely, this charming book is aimed at the young (given "things to do") and the young-in-heart, focusing on activities, competitions, suitable gifts, and the events that bond us to the concepts of village and parish which linger in the mind, however much they may seem to have disappeared from the postmodern ideas of society. Equally charming is the delightful account of how Valentine cards crept into Victorian households despite the strictness of the paterfamilias. A similar amused approval attends the accounts of postwar Shrovetide activities, as in Olney, in Liberal in the USA, in Cumberland collier communities, in horse racing at Chester, or the making of Coquille buns in Norwich.
Publication Type: Review
Source of Publication: Lore and Language, 15(1-2), p. 201-202
Publisher: National Centre for English Cultural Tradition (NATCECT), University of Sheffield
Place of Publication: Sheffield, United Kingdom
ISSN: 0307-7144
Field of Research (FOR): 200299 Cultural Studies not elsewhere classified
220499 Religion and Religious Studies not elsewhere classified
210305 British History
HERDC Category Description: D3 Review of Single Work
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