Christmas Countdown 18 – The Prehistory of Christmas (Midwinter Festivals)

So, over the next few days I am going to bring looking at the prehistory/history of Christmas and midwinter festivals. focusing on Britain and Europe. These are not designed to be extensive histories, but short overviews and summaries of some of festivals that have taken place, and looking at some of the differences and continuities over time. I also thought this would suitable as the solstice is almost upon us and with a week to go until the big day.

Here is roughly what will be covered over the next few days:

  • The Prehistory of the midwinter festivals from around 3000 BC – to the Roman invasion.
  • Medieval Midwinter Festivals
  • Christmas during the reformation, The Civil War and Republic, Restoration of the Monarchy
  • Santa Claus and the invention of the ‘Traditional’ Christmas.

This is also given an opportunity to further my own knowledge and understanding of the topic, and a chance to the review the book ‘From Stonehenge to Santa Claus – The Evolution of Christmas’ by Paul Frodsham.

Tomorrow we will start of by looking at the Prehistory of the Midwinter festival, but I also just wanted to briefly touch on why I am fascinated by the subject.

I have always been fascinated by the winter season, and not from a religious standpoint. It is by far my favourite season. I do love Christmas, I love getting together with friends and family, the food and the act of gift giving and receiving. I also much prefer the cold weather. But these are not the only reason, for me it is a time of much reflection on the past, but also a time for looking forward to the new. And this is also a big theme and trend in, or appears to be to me at least, of many midwinter festivals throughout the ages.

So what is it you like about the season? Do you? What do you dislike?, please let me know in the comments.


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