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Ceremonies of the Seasons Book Review

When we go from Winter to Spring, we notice some pretty big changes. The air goes from feeling cold and biting, to warm and fresh. As new plants are budding everywhere around us, we, too, are filled with inspiration and new ideas. It feels like time to celebrate!

In the book Ceremonies of the Seasons, author Jennifer Cole explores holidays and traditions from around the world. So, if you are in the mood to celebrate, as I am, this book is filled with lore and tradition from many different cultures and religions.

The book itself is absolutely beautiful! At 160 pages, there are gorgeous illustrations on almost every page.

And it’s broken up into 10 sections:

Introduction: Why do we celebrate, Seasonal and Sacred Calendars, Cycles of the Sun and Moon, Solstices and Equinoxes, and Understanding the Ancient Year.

Winter turns to Spring: Emergence, First Flowers, Brighid, the Bright One, Candlemas, Chinese New Year, Groundhog Day, Love Festivals.

Spring: Spring Equinox, New Beginnings, The Roots of Modern Easter, Festivals of Colour, Love and Motherhood, Springs Storms and the Wind Flower, and Resurrected Gods.

Spring turns to Summer: May Day, A Blanket of Flowers, Banishing the Darkeness, Hawthorns; the Fairy Tree, Horned Gods and May Games, the Green Man.

Summer: Summer Solstice, Sun, Light and Fire, Summer in the Zodiac, A Time to Pause, The Oak: King of the Woods, Solstice Sites.

Summer turns to Autumn: Harvest, Remembering Ancestors, Crop Deities – Myth and Ritual, Lughnasadh, Sheaf Ceremonies, Death and Rebirth.

Autumn: Autumn Equinox, Marking Equinox and Harvest, Rosh Hashanah to Sukkot, Moon Cakes and Lanterns, Celebrating the Vines, Dying Light.

Autumn turns to Winter: Twilight, Thanksgiving and Feasts of Plenty, Days and Nights of the Dead, Bonfire Nights, Diwali.

Winter: Winter Solstice, The Light Returns, The Arrival of Father Christmas, Yule Logs and Christmas Trees, Chaos and Misrule, Renewing the Cycle, Winter and the Underworld.

The For Reference section: Zodiac Months, The Tree Calendar, Cherokee Moon Months, Glossary, Further Reading, Index, Picture Credits and Acknowledgments.

As I read through each section, I was not only impressed at the amount of work she put into this book as a reference tool, but her writing was easy and flowing. This book was a very enjoyable read.

Each section starts off with a lovely and fresh quote that has not yet been overused; for instance, Spring’s quote is “Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.” Rainer Maria Rilke.

The book is rich with old legends and folktales, and where she does talk about what some specific cultures did to celebrate various traditions, she is not actually offering up specific traditions for each season (you can use your imagination and come up with your own after reading the chapter).

I would highly recommend this book to anyone wishing to find out more about various traditions, or who had an interest in seasonal folklore and legend. As a folklore writer, I love this book, and find it not only beautiful, but a very useful reference tool.

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