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Stations Of The Sun Paperback – June 28, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (June 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192854488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192854483
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #836,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

`a fascinating volume, which any future study of calendar rituals - or of 'pagan residues' in popular culture - will have to take into account.' Margaret Cormack, Speculum - A Jnl of Medieval Studies, 2000.

`Students of religion will be impressed by the ample evidence the book provides, not for the survival of pagan religious practices in a Christian era, but for the survival of Catholic practices in a Protestant one.' Margaret Cormack, Speculum - A Jnl of Medieval Studies, 2000.

`Well produced and written in a pleasing style, it is a rich source of information about late-medieval calendar customs whose scope extends far beyond the Middle Ages. Stations of the Sun belongs in the reference collection of any college library.' Margaret Cormack, Speculum - A Jnl of Medieval Studies, 2000.

`a tour de force from one of the liveliest and most wide-ranging of practising English historians this unfailingly stimulating, learned and engaging book places a relatively neglected aspect of English social history firmly on the map. ' Eamon Duffy, TLS

About the Author

Ronald Hutton is Reader in History at the University of Bristol.

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Customer Reviews

A very scholarly work on the origins and customs surrounding the holidays in Britain.
Mark Howells
The most useful element to this work is the fact that Hutton details the source material available to readers, AND provides his assessment of their reliability.
Rachel
I learned a lot from this book and I consider it essential reading for everyone (especially neo-pagans) who has an interest in this subject.
Doreen Taylor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Doreen Taylor on August 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a great source for information about British customs and lore. Hutton is excited about his subject and holds it in deep regard all the wile telling us the way it really is. I learned a lot from this book and I consider it essential reading for everyone (especially neo-pagans) who has an interest in this subject.
As a neo-pagan I wouldn't want to have this vast subject explained to me in one sentence - I want examples as to why a certain custom or seasonal festival is important/necessary in the wheel of the year. Ialso want sources states because if someone were to just say to me "Everything you have read about British seasonal customs is wrong" I would say, "Prove it". Hutton indeed takes the time to prove his arguments.
Hutton isn't against neo-pagans, but he is _for_ scholarship.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Alison Hudson VINE VOICE on November 19, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is not for a casual reader. It is, instead, a compendium of primary source information for those curious about the calendar year in Britain. It's fascinating scholarship and absolutely authoratative in its research, but not for "just reading"! At some points, the paragraphs are so thick with citations and details that my eyes began to gloss. In general, though, the prose remains readable, even when detailing minutia.

I do want to address one criticism from an earlier reviewer, who said this about the book:

"Hutton debunks everything he presents; after a while it kind of got on my nerves. Virtually every description and explanation is followed by some sort of 'but this probably didn't happen' or 'this probably wasn't really the way it was' disclaimer. fter reading several chapters, my attitude morphed into 'why are you wasting my time telling me about stuff that didn't happen? Can't you tell me about anything that probably DID happen?'"

I'm not sure if this reviewer and I were reading the same book. Yes, Hutton debunks many myths surrounding these customs, but to say that he provides no information on what DID happen, or how it happened, is bunk. The book is thick with information, a real brick of scholarship. There are ten chapters alone on the evidence of various Christmas and New years traditions!

Those with a serious interest in the development of many Western calendar customs in Britain (many of which are also the ultimate root of our American traditions) should definitely add this boo to their collections.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Mark Howells on October 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
A very scholarly work on the origins and customs surrounding the holidays in Britain. This book has been a bit of a "tough read" for me as I worked through the dry parts of interest to folklorists between the parts of interest to genealogists. As an American, I had to have Guy Fawkes Night explained to me. As a genealogist working with UK sources, it's nice to understand what Rogationtide and Candlemas are, for instance.
In general, the book attempts to overturn the classical folklorist mistakes in the sources and symbolism of holidays dating back to Sir James Frazer's Golden Bough. Not every custom and tradition is a direct descendant of Celtic religious rites. Humanity has been very adaptable to inventing new "old traditions" as the need arises and our earlier ancestors where just as good at fulfilling these needs as were the Victorians who invented our concept of an "old fashioned Christmas".
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is probably the most accurate and well-researched book on the history of the ritual year in Britain that you could hope to read. It is also well-written, fascinating, and full of source material for further thought and study. It examines the origins and development of major festivals, and dispels a few myths along the way. It has a wealth of detail without becoming bogged down in it, and the prose is often lyrical. Highly recommended.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Gibbons on October 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is far and away the best book on the subject! Meticulously researched, I give it my highest recommendation -- especially for Neo-Pagans. It's a wonderful antidote for the misinformation so common in pop histories.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Skeptical Reader on August 7, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this book, and I would highly recommend it as one of the best available on this topic. However, I did recently discover an error in the chapter on the origins of Christmas, which I hope Hutton will correct in any future revised edition. Hutton cites the "Scriptor Syrus," supposedly writing in the late 4th century CE, as evidence that the Christians consciously imitated the pagans. However, the "Scriptor Syrus," which just means "the Syrian scribe" was actually writing in the 12th, not the 4th, century CE, thus way too late to count as a contemporary witness. The famous passage quoted by Hutton, which has been used again and again by those wanting to prove a pagan origin for Christmas, was just a note in the margins of a copy made by the unknown "Syrian scribe" of a work by the 12th century bishop Jacob Bar-Salibi. Here is the link to a page explaining this further with an image of the original: [...] - if Amazon deletes the link, then just search for the title of the article "The Syrus Code: Deciphering the Origins of Christmas, or Not." Even without this particular piece of evidence, though, it still looks obvious to any unbiased observer that the early Christians in Rome picked the 25th of December as the Birthday of Christ in conscious or unconscious imitation of the birthday of the Sun God - see Toward the Origins of Christmas [Liturgia Condenda 5] for a detailed history of the two main competing theories, the "History of Religions Theory" (that it came from the pagans), and the "Calculation Theory" (that it predates the feast of Sol Invictus, and was arrived at by counting nine months forward from the date of Jesus' assumed date of conception).
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