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Maypoles, Mandrakes and Mistletoe: A Treasury of British Folklore

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Did you know, in Yorkshire it was believed a person lying on a pillow stuffed with pigeon’s feathers could not die? Or that green is an unlucky colour for wedding dresses—in Scotland they would not even serve green vegetables at the wedding breakfast? In the West Country, the seventh son of a seventh son has the power to cure ringworm. You’ve heard about St. George, but ho Did you know, in Yorkshire it was believed a person lying on a pillow stuffed with pigeon’s feathers could not die? Or that green is an unlucky colour for wedding dresses—in Scotland they would not even serve green vegetables at the wedding breakfast? In the West Country, the seventh son of a seventh son has the power to cure ringworm. You’ve heard about St. George, but how about the Green Man, who was believed to rule over the natural world? Or Black Shuck, the giant ghostly dog who was reputed to roam East Anglia? As well as looking at the history of this subject, this book has a directory of places you can go to see folklore alive and well today. The Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival, for example, or wassailing cider orchards in Somerset.


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Did you know, in Yorkshire it was believed a person lying on a pillow stuffed with pigeon’s feathers could not die? Or that green is an unlucky colour for wedding dresses—in Scotland they would not even serve green vegetables at the wedding breakfast? In the West Country, the seventh son of a seventh son has the power to cure ringworm. You’ve heard about St. George, but ho Did you know, in Yorkshire it was believed a person lying on a pillow stuffed with pigeon’s feathers could not die? Or that green is an unlucky colour for wedding dresses—in Scotland they would not even serve green vegetables at the wedding breakfast? In the West Country, the seventh son of a seventh son has the power to cure ringworm. You’ve heard about St. George, but how about the Green Man, who was believed to rule over the natural world? Or Black Shuck, the giant ghostly dog who was reputed to roam East Anglia? As well as looking at the history of this subject, this book has a directory of places you can go to see folklore alive and well today. The Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival, for example, or wassailing cider orchards in Somerset.

30 review for Maypoles, Mandrakes and Mistletoe: A Treasury of British Folklore

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amalia Gkavea

    ''As we get older, we still sense the wonder of those takes we know from childhood. They whisper to us with every fleeting glimpse of what might just be a fairy in the woodlands, or a giant peering through a crevice in the rock.'' Dee Dee Chainey is a world treasure. She is a cultural icon for those of us who adore Folklore and recognize its vital importance and impact on all aspects of our life, and the way tradition has the owner to many issues we face. The online magazine #FolkloreThursday ''As we get older, we still sense the wonder of those takes we know from childhood. They whisper to us with every fleeting glimpse of what might just be a fairy in the woodlands, or a giant peering through a crevice in the rock.'' Dee Dee Chainey is a world treasure. She is a cultural icon for those of us who adore Folklore and recognize its vital importance and impact on all aspects of our life, and the way tradition has the owner to many issues we face. The online magazine #FolkloreThursday is a wealth of knowledge of World Folklore and probably the only reason making Twitter useful. This beautiful volume, wonderfully illustrated by Joe McLaren, is a true treasure covering every ''branch'' of British Folklore, the dark and supernatural, the human and earthly. Folklore of the land and the animal kingdom, the seasons, the holy wells, the mountains and the seas. Giants, witches, kings and heroes, elves and fairies. Ghosts, changelings. Death, birth, work and marriage. Did you know that in Lincolnshire it is unlucky to eat the whole Christmas cake on Christmas Eve? In Suffolk, the light are turned off that night and I was surprised to find that we have a similar custom in Greece, related to New Year's Eve. 'First footing' is very important in Scotland and one of my favourite British celebrations is Up Helly Aa taking place in Shetland, possibly commemorating the Viking heritage of this beautiful Scottish corner. Beltane, Lughnasadh, Lammas, St. John's Day and the custom of jumping through a bonfire for luck are well-known festivities, each one steeped in legend. We are tracing the steps of the Druids. Rocks come alive stull retaining healing powers in Wiltshire, Glamorgan, Argyllshire, Orkney. We stand at the banks of mysterious rivers, full of myths and legendary creatures, waiting for a Scottish Kelpie to appear. Well dressing reassures us of nature's blessings and in Derbyshire, a drum over water will reveal where a corpse lies. Mystical forests hide centuries-old secrets. Birch woods, chestnut and apple trees, the sacred elder tree, the acorns and yews to ward off thunder and witches, and the mandrake with its dark spells. One of the greatest gifts of Nature, the bee is a companion to be revered and should always be informed of a death in a family, as is the robin that plucked away the sharpest thorn from Jesus' forehead, easing His unimaginable pain. We visit legendary places like Glastonbury Abbey and the Mount Badon, where Arthur fought the Saxons. We walk in the steps of Emrys, our Merlin, and his vision of the two dragons, the red victorious and immortalized on the Welsh flag. Boudicca, Robin Hood, Lady Godiva, St. Winifred and a surprisingly ''alive'' pantheon that populates a vast wealth of beautiful myths. The Green Man is watching us along with a very particular (and arguably unwelcome...) guest. Only in the folklore of the Czech Republic have I found so many myths related to the Devil. Fairies, elves, goblins, the night raids in Northumberland and the Fairy Flag of the MacLeods of Dunvegan Castle on the island of Skye. Scottish redcaps, will-o'-the wisps, brownies. The Lancashire Witch Trials, John Dee, the ghost of the unfortunate Anne Boleyn and Halloween divinations that reveal a future husband to young women. Customs related to cooking and the gatherings at the table. Selkies, sea legends, and superstitions. Yorkshire harvest traditions and the haunting procession on St. Mark's Eve of those who are going to die within the year. This is only a small reference to the plethora of customs and traditions that can be found in this superb volume. Embellished with an extensive Further Reading section and an informative list of folklore events and festivals for each month, Dee Dee Chainey's work must find a place in your collection. ''Even now, walking ancient pathways, our legends unravel before us. If we listen carefully, we might fancy we can still hear the whispers of giants, witches, fairies, and the ghosts of the warriors that still sleep under verdant mounds. When we gaze over the meadows, we might just glimpse the elf-arrows glittering in the sunlight, peeking through ploughed fields from their hiding places in the ancient brown loam of history.'' My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...

  2. 5 out of 5

    ~Bookishly~

    This is a book that I happened to come across at one of my National Trust visits. The cover looked intriguing and the content even more so. This is a rather short read, but definitely not a dull one. The layout of this book, to me, reads like a list of customs, instead of wonderful descriptions like I was expecting. I think this does enable one to soak up the snippets of knowledge quicker, though. At the back of the book are references and a list of places where one may find out more about folkl This is a book that I happened to come across at one of my National Trust visits. The cover looked intriguing and the content even more so. This is a rather short read, but definitely not a dull one. The layout of this book, to me, reads like a list of customs, instead of wonderful descriptions like I was expecting. I think this does enable one to soak up the snippets of knowledge quicker, though. At the back of the book are references and a list of places where one may find out more about folklore. There are also some gorgeous illustrations in here, to accompany the text. This book tells us the marvellous history of the British, and their superstitions and beliefs, and, since this is my first read on the subject of folklore, I am rather interested in finding out more.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Even in these days of 24/7 news, a world of knowledge at your fingertips and the ability to talk to almost anyone else on the planet, there are still things that we do and say that can trace their origins back hundreds of years. Some of the stranger ones have sadly vanished from the common vernacular, but thankfully we have people like Dee Dee Chainey who has scoured the legends, crept past the giants and kelpies and learnt about the customs and included them in this charming little book. So if y Even in these days of 24/7 news, a world of knowledge at your fingertips and the ability to talk to almost anyone else on the planet, there are still things that we do and say that can trace their origins back hundreds of years. Some of the stranger ones have sadly vanished from the common vernacular, but thankfully we have people like Dee Dee Chainey who has scoured the legends, crept past the giants and kelpies and learnt about the customs and included them in this charming little book. So if you want to know who the green man was, which tree it is rumoured to be safe to stand under in a thunderstorm and when in the farming year they would shout 'Hurrah! Hurrah for the neck. As you'd expect, there are hounds, white harts and fairies. You can discover which fairies like to help and which use blood to dye their caps. The supernatural gets a section to itself as well as the hatched, matched and despatched themes that still dominate life today. It is a good overview of the weft and weave of folklore that permeates our lives even today. If it does lack a little depth, but it is a concise summation of all things folklore. That said, there is an extensive bibliography and references and more importantly a comprehensive list of places to find folklore for those that want to uncover much more about this fascinating subject. I loved the bold woodcut illustrations by Joe McLaren too, they are a certain gravitas to the book

  4. 4 out of 5

    G. Lawrence

    A charming little book, not long, but very interesting. It's a hop-skip guide over the folklore of Britain taking in many regions, superstitions and customs. Not an in-depth guide, but certainly an interesting one. Appears longer than it is because of a great deal of really quite lovely illustrations. A charming little book, not long, but very interesting. It's a hop-skip guide over the folklore of Britain taking in many regions, superstitions and customs. Not an in-depth guide, but certainly an interesting one. Appears longer than it is because of a great deal of really quite lovely illustrations.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Arie

    Though the content of the book does succumb to being mostly a listing of customs, with little description or loveliness of language, it is startlingly easy to read and does manage to gather (in a very short space) an astounding array of folklore knowledge and stories. A nice place to start in a search for locations and stories - and the book itself is a lovely object. Four stars to be generous.

  6. 4 out of 5

    John Brunton

    This being my first book on the subject of folklore, I found it a good introduction to the subject. The book gives short accounts of various folklore that comes from the whole the uk Well worth having a read through and a book I will go back to once in awhile to

  7. 5 out of 5

    Doria

    Very nice little book, with elements of British folklore arranged thematically into chapters. It’s a bit of a mishmash of superstitions and traditions, but these are enhanced by the occasional charming woodcut image. Not recommended for serious folklorists, but rather nice for anyone with a fancy for English oddities. I never knew about toads in kettles being believed to stop the water boiling; wouldn’t that be the least of the trouble?? And how about this charm against bad luck: Sweep the floor Very nice little book, with elements of British folklore arranged thematically into chapters. It’s a bit of a mishmash of superstitions and traditions, but these are enhanced by the occasional charming woodcut image. Not recommended for serious folklorists, but rather nice for anyone with a fancy for English oddities. I never knew about toads in kettles being believed to stop the water boiling; wouldn’t that be the least of the trouble?? And how about this charm against bad luck: Sweep the floor and make a dust pile; Leave the pile for three days; Cover with a black cloth made of drilling (what’s that?); Beat the pile with an elm branch, assisted by a witch (how?). Seems impractical. Also, don’t put a loaf of bread upside down. How did anyone get anything done???

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ebony

    Loved this book! It's a wonderful collection of all the little bits of folklore that populate the various regions of the UK. It's a joyful read which makes the everyday appear a little more magical once you've heard that bees were thought to get lonely if you didn't speak with them. Obviously well researched, with social and historical context interwoven throughout. Loved this book! It's a wonderful collection of all the little bits of folklore that populate the various regions of the UK. It's a joyful read which makes the everyday appear a little more magical once you've heard that bees were thought to get lonely if you didn't speak with them. Obviously well researched, with social and historical context interwoven throughout.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rose English

    Book 29 of my Goodreads Challenge This is a beautiful little treasure trove of a book, split into three parts giving a wonderful and varied selection of tales from British Folklore. Part One: Of the Land, Plants and Animals An apt place to begin with short insights into the seasons and the folkloric year. For example did you know that ... a sneeze on Wednesday in Hertfordshire means a letter is coming. Part Two: Witchcraft, Magic and Heroic Tales This section also includes several ghosts and haunting Book 29 of my Goodreads Challenge This is a beautiful little treasure trove of a book, split into three parts giving a wonderful and varied selection of tales from British Folklore. Part One: Of the Land, Plants and Animals An apt place to begin with short insights into the seasons and the folkloric year. For example did you know that ... a sneeze on Wednesday in Hertfordshire means a letter is coming. Part Two: Witchcraft, Magic and Heroic Tales This section also includes several ghosts and hauntings along with various versions of stories of the hauntings of the Hell Hound Part Three: The Milestones of Life This sections as expected covers births and deaths, love and marriage etc. One thing that interested me here was the prominent part that cheese seems to play in a birth ceremony often called 'the groaning cheese' In Oxfordshire, a ring was cut into the middle of the cheese, and the child would be passed through it for luck on their christening day. Where to find Folklore This wonderful list of festivals can be found at the end of the book. Each festival is listed under the month in which it is celebrated, and often includes a link for further information. All in all a beautiful book with simple black and white illustrations dotted throughout. Great for dipping in and out of at your leisure.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Richard Thomas

    This is an enjoyable gallop through a number of superstitious, legends and myths. The whole of the British Isles is covered but not Ireland which would warrant a very large volume for itself. I do recognise a number of them from my own childhood in Essex but I suspect they are now vague memories rather than clear folk tales.

  11. 5 out of 5

    James

    A good survey of British folklore in a number of different categories. Nothing goes too in depth or focuses on the history. But there are lots of interesting tidbits to explore further!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tanya (Novel Paperbacks)

    3.5 ⭐️ A lot of interesting information that gives a good overview of British folklore. But doesn’t go into too much detail.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael Bishop

    A fascinating overview for anyone with an interest in myth, ritual, tradition and folklore. Practice and story, a small proportion of which spilled over into my own childhood, can be glimpsed in the pages of this short offering. A great introduction that will surely encourage a deeper study into areas of this rich and still living subject.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Emma Mullins

    An interesting overview. Abysmally proofread.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Faria

    A Treasury of British Folklore by Dee Dee Chainey is a collection of folklore, magic, superstitions, customs and traditions on Great Britain. I highly recommend this book so we can understand more about these customs and some origins of celebrations and traditions we know today. Watch my video recommending the book here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLQpU... Read my full review with pictures here: https://www.santuariolunar.com.br/en/... The first part of the book is dedicated to the land, plant A Treasury of British Folklore by Dee Dee Chainey is a collection of folklore, magic, superstitions, customs and traditions on Great Britain. I highly recommend this book so we can understand more about these customs and some origins of celebrations and traditions we know today. Watch my video recommending the book here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLQpU... Read my full review with pictures here: https://www.santuariolunar.com.br/en/... The first part of the book is dedicated to the land, plants, animals, and other things directly related to Nature. So, if you are used to working some Natural Witchcraft, this part is going to offer a lot of information for you! The second part is the best part - but also the darkest one. In the beginning of this part, we learn about many heroes and giants. There's much more than Arthur and Robin Hood! Then, we are presented with Gods, Goddesses, Demons and other beings. So yes, we find the Green Man, Dôn - a Welsh equivalent to Danu - and the fact the "Many bridges, hills and dykes in Britain are named after the Devil." In this last part, we find a lot of things related to giving birth, growing up, getting married, living and dying and etc. This part contains many spells and incantations for getting married! So, if you're in need, you can try some of these!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Adam Dobson

    My new project is British folklore. This is a great primer and Ms Chainey structures her stories and anecdotes in a logical way. The various stories provide a comprehensive overview of the folklore of the British Isles and has left me hungry for more. It's a super quick read and does not offer much in the way of explanations but as a gateway into the subject I found it ideal. I did have to read it with my phone next to me so that I could look up the locations and artefacts she mentioned which I My new project is British folklore. This is a great primer and Ms Chainey structures her stories and anecdotes in a logical way. The various stories provide a comprehensive overview of the folklore of the British Isles and has left me hungry for more. It's a super quick read and does not offer much in the way of explanations but as a gateway into the subject I found it ideal. I did have to read it with my phone next to me so that I could look up the locations and artefacts she mentioned which I found riveting. Could be argued it's a bit too light on details, but I enjoyed it for what it was. Lovely, friendly style which conveyed the author's love of the subject.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Conah Charlie

    A lovely insight into Britain's unique and often humourous traditions. Each chapter explores a different subject; from birth and death, to witchcraft, animals, and plants. Although the book is relatively short, expect to encounter a plethora of folklore related facts on every page! The transitions between the individual folklore elements is quite smooth, with charming illustrations to accompany some of the tales. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this brief, yet rich journey through my countries folk A lovely insight into Britain's unique and often humourous traditions. Each chapter explores a different subject; from birth and death, to witchcraft, animals, and plants. Although the book is relatively short, expect to encounter a plethora of folklore related facts on every page! The transitions between the individual folklore elements is quite smooth, with charming illustrations to accompany some of the tales. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this brief, yet rich journey through my countries folklore.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chiara

    A quick and enjoyable read! Lots of familiar topics and some new. It's just a summary of different stories and beliefs, not actual stories themselves, but I still found it enlightening. There are some things that appear in other books I've read (especially Harry Potter, and the works of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black) that I never knew the basis of (like the origins of the idea of house elves, surprisingly). It also has short bibliography in the back which should be useful for further reading. A quick and enjoyable read! Lots of familiar topics and some new. It's just a summary of different stories and beliefs, not actual stories themselves, but I still found it enlightening. There are some things that appear in other books I've read (especially Harry Potter, and the works of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black) that I never knew the basis of (like the origins of the idea of house elves, surprisingly). It also has short bibliography in the back which should be useful for further reading.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dan Coxon

    A very thorough and entertaining compendium of folklore, from the founder of the #FolkloreThursday hashtag. The main draw is the lovely illustrated edition, with glorious woodcuts by Joe McLaren - it's a pleasure just to leaf through it. As for the text, at times it reads like a long and slightly dry litany of folkloric customs - I'd have liked it to zoom in from time to time, and give us in-depth accounts of some of the more intriguing traditions. With a good index and a host of information, ho A very thorough and entertaining compendium of folklore, from the founder of the #FolkloreThursday hashtag. The main draw is the lovely illustrated edition, with glorious woodcuts by Joe McLaren - it's a pleasure just to leaf through it. As for the text, at times it reads like a long and slightly dry litany of folkloric customs - I'd have liked it to zoom in from time to time, and give us in-depth accounts of some of the more intriguing traditions. With a good index and a host of information, however, it's a great book to dip into, and a must-have for the British folklore enthusiast.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Daphne

    Picked up this little book when I was in London, mainly because the cover looked pretty. I was a bit disappointed when I discovered that most of the folklore is written in short, list-like sentences instead of the stories I had hoped for. Still, it was quite an easy and enjoyable read, and an amazing resource if I would ever find myself needing to know something about British folklore.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Stirling

    This book was an interesting summary of various aspects of British folklore. It's a great starting point for learning what different customs and superstitions are out there, however, it does read a bit like one massive list. It would have been nice to get a bit more of the origins and explanations of the folklore as well. This book was an interesting summary of various aspects of British folklore. It's a great starting point for learning what different customs and superstitions are out there, however, it does read a bit like one massive list. It would have been nice to get a bit more of the origins and explanations of the folklore as well.

  22. 4 out of 5

    J.G. Murray

    A great overview of British folklore, ingeniously subdivided into easy-to-digest chapters and accompanied with some great monochrome illustrations. Serves as a fun introduction to our rich history of beliefs and superstitions. Recommended!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I really enjoyed reading this and loved how the folklore was categorised, however there wasn’t a whole lot of detail and I would have preferred some deeper analysis but for a small book it’s a great gateway into studying British folklore

  24. 5 out of 5

    Zoe Norman

    I really enjoyed this book and the illustrations throughout. It is a great introduction to many folklore tales across Britain and just enough detail for an introductory book. I particularly enjoyed the sections on birds, animals, ghosts and historical hauntings with one of my favourites being the folklore of the ghost dog the Black Shuck.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    An interesting collection of folklore- so many superstitions and beliefs. It is always good to learn about one's own history and I throughly enjoyed learning about what people genuinely believed hundreds of years ago (even if they sound bizarre to the modern audience). An interesting collection of folklore- so many superstitions and beliefs. It is always good to learn about one's own history and I throughly enjoyed learning about what people genuinely believed hundreds of years ago (even if they sound bizarre to the modern audience).

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ayesha

    A quick and easy read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    Not really a fan of how this book is built up. Could have done better by working more like and encyclopaedia.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Aurélie

    Really entertaining! I learned a lot!

  29. 5 out of 5

    James Watkins

    Short and sweet, great for finding out research for folklore.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Anna Chorlton

    A lovely book, packed with interesting folklore, I enjoyed it.

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