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The Stations of the SunA History of the Ritual Year in Britain$
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Ronald Hutton

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205708

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205708.001.0001

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Rites of Celebration and Reassurance

Rites of Celebration and Reassurance

(p.34) 4 Rites of Celebration and Reassurance
The Stations of the Sun

Ronald Hutton

Oxford University Press

The point has now been adequately made that the habit of a midwinter festivity had come by the dawn of history to seem a natural one to Britain, and not one to be eradicated by changes of politics or religion. What may now be investigated are specific components of that festivity and the manner in which they have developed up to the present. This chapter considers direct ripostes to the three most obvious privations of the season: the lack of green leaves, light, and warmth. It was a general custom in pagan Europe to decorate spaces with greenery and flowers for festivals, attested wherever records have survived. Those who condemned the practice included St Gregory Nazianzen, Bishop Martin of Braga, and the clerics who gathered at the latter's Braga Council. Among those who positively recommended it was Pope Gregory the Great, at the opening of the seventh century, with England specifically in mind.

Keywords:   midwinter, festivity, Britain, Europe, greenery, flowers, Gregory Nazianzen, Martin of Braga, Braga Council, Gregory the Great

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