Festivals of Western Europe

Festivals of Western Europe

Festivals of Western Europe

Festivals of Western Europe

Excerpt

"Tradition ties the past to the present and is the link which binds the past to the future," according to Camillo de Castello Branco, Portugal's great nineteenth-century novelist.

I have written FESTIVALS OF WESTERN EUROPE as one who loves the old in relation to the new, and looks upon the past as the heritage of the future. Festas, fairs, holy days, pilgrimages and patronal village feasts--all these events have come down through the centuries, and intermingled with the traditions of the church and the lives of peasant folk. Festivals once held to honor pagan deities have become associated in the course of time with the saints' days of the Christian calendar. Ancient fertility rites have been transmuted into parish ceremonies to welcome spring and ensure growth of crops and health to beasts. The fires once kindled to light the Sun God on his dark midwinter journey through the heavens now glow brightly in honor of the Christ Child's birth.

Thus it is that festivals and ceremonies observed in European countries today have origins which are lost in the mists of time. These traditional events are a treasury from which we draw knowledge of peoples, places and customs. Without the past there could be no present, just as without the present there can be no future. This is why tradition is important.

I have written about European festivals as a reporter who, through the years, has visited many countries and participated in many joyous traditional events. I have described customs and ceremonies as I have witnessed them or have learned of them through reliable sources. To make the book more practical festival descriptions are supplemented by reference material which includes a table of Easter dates and movable festivals dependent upon Easter, a glossary of some common festival terms and a list of sources in different languages.

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