The Seasonal Festivals of Britain with Ronald Hutton

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The Seasonal Festivals of Britain with Professor Ronald Hutton

From May Day revelry to midsummer fires, Christmas feasts to harvest parties, Professor Ronald Hutton takes us on a spirited journey through the history of seasonal festivals in Britain.

Over the course of four illustrated lectures, Ronald Hutton, Professor of History at the University of Bristol, explores the ways in which people in the past have marked the passing of seasons and unearths the origin of customs that are still with us today, like Christmas cards and hot cross buns. Along the way, you’ll learn about British folklore traditions, the real significance of the May Pole, why the Puritans banned Christmas, and the magical properties of St John’s Wort.

A wide-ranging, entertaining and expert guide to the traditional calendar year, this online course is just the thing to get you in the festive spirit, as well as a one-off chance to listen to the lectures of one of the UK’s foremost historians. We’ve long admired Prof Hutton’s engaging rhetorical style and are now thrilled to introduce him to you.

Course Outline

This course consists of four illustrated video lessons. It also includes handy PDF notes, further reading, audio files so you can listen like a podcast, a fun quiz, a certificate of completion and access to the community forum.

Lesson One: Christmas
Prof Ronald Hutton sets the record straight on the Pagan and Christian origins of Christmas, from the medieval Feast of Fools to Victorian traditions.

Lesson Two: The Festivals of Spring
Prof Hutton delves into the history and customs of the traditional festivals of spring: St Brigid’s Day, Candlemas and May Day.

Lesson Three: Midsummer and Lammas
Prof Hutton turns to the heady summer months of June, July and August, punctuated by the excitement of midsummer solstice and the celebration of harvest festivals like Lammas.

Lesson Four: Halloween and Guy Fawkes’ Night
In the final lesson, Ronald Hutton tells the story of Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes’ Night, and unearths the long, spooky and spiritual history of All Hallows Eve.

About the tutor

Professor Ronald Hutton is a leading authority on the history of the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, on ancient and medieval Paganism and magic, and on the global context of witchcraft beliefs. He is Professor of History at the University of Bristol. His research into pre-historic and medieval monuments, including for example Stonehenge and paganism has profoundly influenced heritage organisations. Ronald is a member of the Board of Trustees for English Heritage and chairs the panel which awards commemorative Blue Plaques. His most recent book is The Witch: A History of Fear, from Ancient Times to the Present (Yale University Press).