Festivals and Celebrations by Sandra Lawrence and Jane Newland
|Festivals and Celebrations by Sandra Lawrence and Jane Newland|
|Category: Children's Non-Fiction|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A small but perfectly-formed guide through the year-long routine of the world's ritual festivals and celebratory events.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 64||Date: August 2017|
|Publisher: 360 Degrees|
|External links: Author's website|
Every day is a feast day, if you follow the Christian calendar very closely – there are probably enough saints now for each day to have about three people attributed to it. But that's just one religion, one way of thinking, one culture – the world is host to a whole lot more, and in every corner they have their own way of celebrating. Some poignantly light small fires and set them afloat to guide the visiting spirits of the deceased back to their post-life homes; some rejoice in the return of spring, or the bounties of the summer's harvest; some just throw crap like tomatoes or coloured water over each other. But the world has a ritual calendar of events such as these, and this is a brilliant book for the young that shows how diverse our celebrations can be.
It follows the common sense path of using the calendar as its basis, starting with New Year traditions (not universally held on January 1st, of course) and ending with Christmas and the post-Christmas wassailing. It's a book that doesn't force down your throats the religious aspects of a lot of this – it gets round to using the R-word once or twice, especially when Easter is included in the spring festivals, but on the whole it's looking at culture, or even ethnography. It also has a very suitable reach – I didn't know some of the European examples used, and it has to be lauded for going from Up Helly Aa, through Germans defeating dragons and witches on an annual basis to Chinese dragon boat festivals.
This wide reach does mean, of course, that not a lot of detail is included, but what do you need? These are celebrations, after all – they nearly all will include music, singing and drinking, if not as part of the event then afterwards. The way the text slips from one corner of the world to the next so quickly means there is no repetition, or this happens here…meanwhile, over in… style commentary. You get just the lightest touch of information, and that's all the subject demands.
Two more things to really like this book for. One, the level of craft in the illustration – I felt I was there at Inti Raymi (well, I have been at its site, just not at the right time), and the impact of both the sailing torchlights and the Hungarian fright-masks is not to be sniffed at. Secondly, I just like the fact I haven't seen a book like this before – it seems such an easy and obvious topic, but I hadn't before now found a volume to show the world's rituals in such a warm and family-friendly light. It definitely is a sister-book to the author's other volume, published at the same time (Myths and Legends), as both concern themselves with what we think about and how that makes us behave. But whereas that may have bitten off more than it could chew, and gave us little that was new, this is a really good example of a book for the school or home study shelf that you'll find a pleasant surprise.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
As I implied, it's awkward to find a book that does similar things. But at all of these festivals people will be bonding with each other, and the first step of that (beyond a smile) is to give welcome – learn multiple ways in The Hello Atlas by Ben Handicott and Kenard Pak. If you'd like an introduction to Diwali we can recommend Amma, Tell Me About Diwali! by Bhakti Mathur.
You can read more book reviews or buy Festivals and Celebrations by Sandra Lawrence and Jane Newland at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Festivals and Celebrations by Sandra Lawrence and Jane Newland at Amazon.com.
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