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Monday, 18 February 2008

Dark Dorset Calendar Customs Book Review - More tales from Dorset's deep and dark Memories

High days and holidays that haw ceased to exist,customs and superstitions that have been lost withthe passage of time, these remnants of the past have been gathered together in an intriguing book.

London-born Robert Newland has lived in Dorset for almost 30 years and has long been fascinated by the folklore of 'Darkest Dorset' and, besides various newspaper articles, he has written books on the subject including Dark Dorset Tales of Mystery,Wonder and Terror in conjunction with Mark North. Dark Dorset Fairies and now. Dark Dorset Calendar Customs.

This relates to the events that marked the calendar each year, each of them looked forward to with anticipation, particularly in the countryside where, besides the feasting they brought with them, even as time passed there was always the observance of fertility rites in thanksgiving for the harvest that had passed or was still to come.

The book is well illustrated to define sections on Healing Waters and Honourable Trees, Beatings and Blessings, Midsummer Mania, Days of Harvest, Broomsticks, Bangers and Blood and Days of Winter Magic.

Contained within these sections are the meanings behind and the customs observed suchas on Oak Apple Day, Rogation Tide. Father's Day and Mothering Sunday, Holy Rood Day, Guy Fawkes Night and Boxing Day

The background to many dates still observed today albeit on a small scale, are explored and there is even a picture from the Dorset Echo Pancake Day Races 2007.

This is a comprehensive compendium of Dark Dorset which which also outlines the Wheel of the Year for the world, giving the origin of the names of the calendar's months and days.

Superstitions are explored and, as an unexpected bonus, 'a taste of folklore' is given in the 29 traditional recipes which were used all over the country to mark the seasons of the year.

Robert Newland does his utmost to go anywhere in Dorset where a traditional custom is still observed, and this brought him once again to the Dorset Echo Pancake Day Races where he filmed the event. (see previous blog entry Pancakes and Football)

The author said: "The video can now be watched on the Dark Dorset 'You Tube' site."

Calendar Customs, which costs £12.50. is published by CFZ Press and is available from bookshops or through the Amazon website.

Review by Hilda Swinney (hilda@scotia22.freeserve.co.uk),
Portland Diary, Dorset Echo, Monday, 18th February 2008

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