holidays

A Short History of Valentine’s Day

Posted on Feb 14, 2012 in history, holidays | Comments Off

A Short History of Valentine’s Day

The origins of Saint Valentine’s Day lie shrouded in obscurity. Saint Valentine himself, a third century Roman martyr, seems to have nothing to do with the romantic traditions that became associated with his feast. Dr. Douce, in his Illustrations of Shakespeare, cited in The Book of Days, writes: It was the practice in ancient Rome, during a great part of the month of February, to celebrate the Lupercalia, which were feasts in honour of Pan and Juno. whence the latter deity was named Februata, Februalis, and Februlla. On this occasion, amidst a variety of ceremonies, the names of young...

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All Hallows Eve in Old Lancashire

Posted on Oct 16, 2011 in all hallows, holidays, lancashire, pendle witches, reformation | 6 comments

All Hallows Eve in Old Lancashire

Come Halloween, the popular imagination turns to witches. Especially in Pendle Witch Country, the rugged Pennine landscape surrounding Pendle Hill, once home to twelve individuals arrested for witchcraft in 1612. The most notorious was Elizabeth Southerns, alias Old Demdike, cunning woman of long-standing repute and the heroine of my novel Daughters of the Witching Hill. How did these historical cunning folk celebrate All Hallows Eve? All Hallows has its roots in the ancient feast of Samhain, which marked the end of the pastoral year and was considered particularly numinous, a time when the...

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Bringing Light to Dark Places

Posted on Dec 16, 2010 in holidays, yuletide | 4 comments

Bringing Light to Dark Places

Warmest Midwinter Blessings to all my readers It’s all too easy to feel frazzled and stressed during this time of year when the ancient sacred significance of the season has been overshadowed by the commercialism of “Giftmas.” Midwinter is the darkest time of year, the time of the Winter Solstice, when the sun appears to stand still in the sky. Here, in the North of England, the darkness feels overwhelming. The sun does not rise until after 8:00 and sets by 3:30. By 5:00, it’s pitch dark. Now imagine experiencing this before the era of electric lights and central...

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Corpus Christi Carol

Posted on Jun 3, 2010 in holidays, seasonal | Comments Off

This haunting medieval carol seemed appropriate for today. There is definitely a mystery hidden in this song. Corpus Christi Carol Lulley, lully, lulley, lully,The faucon hath born my mak away. He bare hym up, he bare hym down,He bare hym into an orchard brown. In that orchard ther was an hall,That was hanged with purpill and pall. And in that hall ther was a bede,Hit was hangid with gold so rede. And yn that bede ther lythe a knyght,His wowndes bledyng day and nyght. By that bedes side ther kneleth a may,And she wepeth both nyght and day. And by that bedes side ther stondith a...

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