Behind today’s Advent door we bring you a slice of festive non-fiction in the form of Merry Midwinter by Gillian Monks. I came across this delightful and unusual little book last year in an independent bookshop and haven’t looked back since. Gillian provides her reader with a facsimile of facts, hints and tips you could possibly need to strip away the 21st century commercialism that has latched onto this joyful celebration, all with the aim to ensure a meaningful and merry festive season for all.
Merry Midwinter truly is a fascinating book, crammed to the brim with interesting tidbits of information, recipes and innovative ideas. Whilst Christmas is central to Merry Midwinter, the focus is more on the Midwinter season in its entirety and all of the traditions that it brings. Throughout the course of reading, we learn about Diwali, Hanukkah, All Saints Day (the 1st of November) and Epiphany, and many more interesting festivals, events and figures. We hear about Frau Holle (Mother Holly), an ancient fertility and earth goddess who rewards the good and punishes the bad, and the battles between the Oak King and the Holly King who fight for the right to rule every solstice.
Infused with personal stories, Merry Midwinter is a pleasure to dip in and out of over the festive season. I love to hear about other strange family traditions: the odd decorations that are wheeled out each year, the games played and the songs sung. Gillian brings the fun and familiarity back into Christmas and the festive season and is well worth a read for those who need their faith restored in Midwinter.
‘Christmas is to remind us of the importance of love… not just to provide a reason for expressing it every few days in December each year, but to spur us on in our endeavours to give it full rein ALL year round.’
What a lovely sentiment to take with us as we enter the week before Christmas!
Festive wishes to you all,
Imogen and the Festival Team x