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The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain (1996)

door Ronald Hutton

LedenBesprekingenPopulariteitGemiddelde beoordelingAanhalingen
454556,020 (4.03)7
From the twelve days of Christmas to the Spring traditions of Valentine, Shrovetide, and Easter eggs, through May Day revels and Midsummer fires, and on to the waning of the year, Harvest Home, and Hallowe'en; Ronald Hutton takes us on a fascinating journey through the ritual year in Britain.His comprehensive study covers all the British Isles and the whole sweep of history from the earliest written records to the present day. Great and lesser, ancient and modern, Christian and pagan, all rituals are treated with the same attention. The result is a colourful and absorbing account inwhich Ronald Hutton illuminates the history of the calender we live by, and challenges many commonly held assumptions about the customs of the past and the festivals of the present.Stations of the Sun is the first complete scholarly work to cover the full span of British rituals, challenging the work of specialists from the late Victorian period onwards, reworking our picture of the field thoroughly, and raising issues for historians of every period.… (meer)
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Toon 5 van 5
This is such a dense text that I still haven't made my way through it after several months, not for lack of trying. The information is interesting, but the book has no "pull" to it beyond the facts themselves; I feel like a Bill Bryson could have taken the same information and made it engaging and readable. Instead this is the literary equivalent of baklava: sweet, heavy, and you can't finish your whole slice. (Mind you, I'm sure plenty of people LOVE baklava and force down every last bite, which is probably true of this book also.) ( )
  particle_p | Apr 1, 2013 |
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2044561.html

A brilliant book which has been on my reading list for far too long. Hutton looks thoroughly and critically at the records of ritual celebrations in England, Scotland and Wales over the centuries, and comes out with some very revisionist conclusions. I had always assumed, for instance, that the Bonfire Night celebrations of 5 November were direct descendants of ancient Celtic Samhain ritual, shifted by a few days; Hutton shows that in fact the evidence is that Bonfire Night started as a direct commemoration of the events of 1605, that earlier Samhain celebrations are recorded, if at all, elsewhere in the country, and that if there was any calendrical shift it was in the other direction, from the 17 November anniversary celebrations of Elizabeth I's accession.

Popular ritual seems to have always been in a state of flux and development, with even Morris dancing as a popular phenomenon dating back only to the 1560s. The only celebrations that Hutton ends up crediting with genuinely ancient roots are the solstices; fully the first quarter of the book looks at the changing nature of Christmas, and summer solstice bonfires do seem to go back to Celtic times. Not surprisingly, the Reformation and the flip-flopping of the 1550s seems to have had a very disruptive effect on ancient ceremonies, but that then opened up space for new practices to emerge, Bonfire Night being only the most widespread and visible.

The book is structured in terms of the calendar, allowing Hutton to take individual ceremonies one by one and look both at the records and the historiography. He is very critical of the folklorists of a hundred years ago as historians, including especially Cecil Sharp (who I knew of because of his Clare College connection) and basically anyone who bought the idea that all the rural celebrations were survivals of an otherwise lost pre-Christian past. In his conclusion, however, he finds space to praise them as inventors of a new literary movement which culminated in the development of Wicca. This leaves me with a couple of thoughts: one stat if Wicca works for some people, then it undeniably has its own truth; the other is that this is all happening at exactly the same time as Tolkien is creating his own mythology, as a consciously fictional (rather than wishfully historical) construction to fit more or less the same needs.

Anyway, Christmas is quite a good time to read this book, especially if you have encountered any recent nonsense about traditional Christian Christmas trees. ( )
1 stem nwhyte | Dec 26, 2012 |
Perhaps occasionally more information than one needs, but the arcane detail is often delightful and intriguing.
  LadyintheLibrary | Jul 1, 2008 |
An essential resource for reconstructionists working with British and related traditions and others wanting a sound basis in fact for claims about pagan survivals etc. (Hint: there are far fewer, and rituals from the Christian period are far more inventive, than is commonly believed). ( )
  lizw | Nov 15, 2005 |
Didn't really finish this one but its exactly what you would need to investigate the historic roots of festivals in Great Britain, IIRC there is a gap in the market for a similar work on Irish festivals. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Oct 9, 2005 |
Toon 5 van 5
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From the twelve days of Christmas to the Spring traditions of Valentine, Shrovetide, and Easter eggs, through May Day revels and Midsummer fires, and on to the waning of the year, Harvest Home, and Hallowe'en; Ronald Hutton takes us on a fascinating journey through the ritual year in Britain.His comprehensive study covers all the British Isles and the whole sweep of history from the earliest written records to the present day. Great and lesser, ancient and modern, Christian and pagan, all rituals are treated with the same attention. The result is a colourful and absorbing account inwhich Ronald Hutton illuminates the history of the calender we live by, and challenges many commonly held assumptions about the customs of the past and the festivals of the present.Stations of the Sun is the first complete scholarly work to cover the full span of British rituals, challenging the work of specialists from the late Victorian period onwards, reworking our picture of the field thoroughly, and raising issues for historians of every period.

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