Robbie’s Inspiration – A Bit About Britain’s High Days and Holidays by Mike Biles

A Bit About Britain's High Days and Holidays by [Mike Biles]

What Amazon says

High Days and Holidays are special occasions, celebrations, or commemorations. They occur throughout the year, some wanted, some not, some remembered more than others. In days gone by, the passing year was marked by seasonal or religious feast days of one sort or another; in some respects, they still help define our calendar.

A Bit About Britain’s High Days and Holidays explores a baker’s dozen of Britain’s notable occasions and traditions, from New Year onward, the things we associate with them and the stories behind each one. If you’ve ever wondered who Valentine was, where Christmas crackers come from, or thought about the Easter bunny (and who hasn’t?), A Bit About Britain’s High Days and Holidays is for you. And, whilst this book is not just for Christmas, it does include an A-Z of the festive season. A couple of recipes have been thrown in for good measure too, as well as an agenda for your hosting your very own Burns’ Supper. Oh – and at the end is an extensive list of Britain’s Big Days and events that normally form part of Britain’s Year – through Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

So, if you’ve ever been baffled as to why some Brits do some of the things they do, or have even questioned why you do them yourself, this little book might help. Occasionally lighthearted, fascinating and useful, once you’ve read it, keep it handy to refer to when needed.

My review

I do not live in Britain, but I love to visit the British Isles and explore all the many places of historical interest. My mother is English and so my upbringing has been English and my family has always celebrated many of the British high days and holidays mentioned in this fascinating book. I found this book and excellent guide to Britain’s many celebratory days, whether they are public holidays or not, and the insights into the origins of these days are informative and detailed.

Many of the holidays have their routes in Christianity such as Christmas, Easter, and St Andrew’s Days. I learned a lot of new history including the meaning behind Boxing Day, how Christmas Crackers [my favourite] came to be, what bird is the traditional Christmas dinner [it’s not the turkey and if you read Dickens you will know that], and why we have Christmas trees.

The book also pays tribute to other high days such as Guy Fawkes Day, I really enjoyed the historical summary of this day that is included, Halloween [did you know this celebration originated in Scotland and Europe and not predominantly the USA], Armistice Day [or red poppy day], and Valentine’s Day.

If you are interested in the history of Britain, or are planning to go to Britain on holiday, this is a most useful reference book to inform you about the customs, people, and religious beliefs of the Brits. The author shares his extensive knowledge of Britain with a good dollop of humour which makes it an even better read.

Here is a little extract about Easter to whet your appetite:
“Rabbits are not native to Britain – and neither is the Easter bunny. Mind you, some people think that the Easter bunny was really a hare, and the hare does have a history in these islands, being regarded as both unlucky and lucky since the Middle Ages. It is suggested that witches readily turn into hares, though I’ve never witnessed that myself. Julius Caesar said the Celts of Britain deemed the hare to be sacred.”

Purchase A Bit About Britain’s High Days and Holidays

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Find Mike Biles

Mike has a wonderful blog where he shares lots of information about Britain and places of historical interest. You can find his latest post here: https://bitaboutbritain.com/bess-of-hardwick-and-her-halls/

Twitter

83 thoughts on “Robbie’s Inspiration – A Bit About Britain’s High Days and Holidays by Mike Biles

    1. Yes, the descendants of the UK are flung far and wide, Toni. We carry a lot of our heritage with us though. We end up with a hybrid of the old and the new. I always feel quite at home in the UK. I can’t say the same for all countries.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Halloween is a mish-mash of myths and legends from all over – probably Europe as you say – not exclusively Scotland. Some think it originated with the Celtic feast of Samhain, though the name is obviously English – a corruption of ‘Hallow’s Evening’ the night of All Hallows before All Saints Day on 1 November. That is/was a Christian festival, of course, so pan-European via the Roman Catholic Church.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I enjoy learning about different cultures and even though we Canadians are part of the British Commonwealth, it is still interesting to see how people celebrate and the history behind them.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I was just saying that I knew about these because I have lived all my 69 years in Britain and been interested in the traditions here. I know many people who wouldn’t know one of them, so do think the book will sell well. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

  2. This sort of literature also interests me. I dug into Britain’s deep history for one of my trilogies but a period long before they had holidays or even a culture. Interesting about rabbits. They are a much newer species than hares and not indigenous to my people’s homeland. So much curious stuff in history!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Robbie, books like this are gems in filling in gaps in our knowledge and this seems ideal to learn about the history of those all-important special days. I bought Mark’s other book for my husband and he thoroughly enjoyed it and now it’s waiting for me to read it!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thanks, Robbie. I’ve read some wonderful things about this book already, and your review adds to my feeling that I’d enjoy it. Like you, I wasn’t born in Britain, but after living there for quite a number of years, I now miss some of the traditions and their peculiar sense of humour. Congratulations to the author!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Robbie, thank you so much for, firstly, buying this book and then reviewing it. I’m so glad you enjoyed it – it’s meant to be informative and fun – hopefully something to refer to from time to time as well. Really appreciate the feedback. It’s lovely that so many of your readers have left their thoughts as well – you have a wonderful community on your site!!

    Liked by 4 people

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