tissington-well-dressing-and-blessing-2011-44

sea·son·al  (sē′zə-nəl)

adj. Of or dependent on a particular season.

As on this whirligig of Time
We circle with the seasons.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, ‘Will Waterproof’s Lyrical Monologue’

In our increasingly atomised and urbanised lives how do we keep track of the passing Seasons and their rhythms?

For me it’s not just about seasonal fruit and vegetables or noting the natural cycle – the budding leaves or falling leaves – in any greenery close at hand, it’s also about acknowledging and celebrating the times when specific cultural or natural events occur. And, it’s about being prepared to listen to history, respect and engage with tradition and open my mind and eyes to folklore.

To me, the term seasonality describes actions, events and activities that define the character, beauty and mystery of each Season.

From canalside flora and woodlands to building campfires and blackberrying; from seasonal journeys inland by old boat to standing and staring and taking the world in; from maypole…

Maypole_b_c1953
A maypole is a tall wooden pole erected as a part of various festivals, around which a maypole dance often takes place. The festivals may occur on May Day or Whitsun, although in some countries it is instead erected at Midsummer. In some cases the maypole is a permanent feature that is only utilised during the festival, although in other cases it is erected specifically for the purpose before being taken down again…

to mummers…

ditmum
Mummers Plays (also known as mumming) are seasonal folk plays performed by troupes of actors known as mummers or guisers (or by local names such as rhymers, pace-eggers, soulers, tipteerers, galoshins, guysers, and so on). They are sometimes performed in the street but more usually as house-to-house visits and in public houses. Although the term mummers has been used since medieval times, no play scripts or performance details survive from that era, and the term may have been used loosely to describe performers of several different kinds.

from Green Man…

greenman credit greenman_0
A Green Man is a sculpture, drawing, or other representation of a face surrounded by or made from leaves. Branches or vines may sprout from the nose, mouth, nostrils or other parts of the face and these shoots may bear flowers or fruit. Commonly used as a decorative architectural ornament, Green Men are frequently found in carvings on both secular and ecclesiastical buildings. 
The Green Man motif has many variations. Found in many cultures from many ages around the world, the Green Man is often related to natural vegetative deities. It is primarily interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, representing the cycle of growth each spring.

to guisers…

Winster_Hobby_horses_&_mummers_(small)

Guisers
The Winster Guisers perform at various venues around the White Peak villages of Derbyshire throughout the Christmas period bringing a traditional mix of colourful drama and festive cheer to an unsuspecting public. Guising is a local tradition better known around England as Mumming. The dictionary tells us that a ‘mummer’ is one who ‘masquerades’ in a folk play usually at Christmas whilst a ’Guiser’ is a person in disguise.
The Winster tradition, characters and costumes are based upon a photograph taken outside Winster Hall in c1870 (see b/w image above). This is the oldest existing photographic record of the mumming/guising tradition in the world today. The antiquarian Llewellyn Jewitt, then owner of the Hall, wrote and described the various ‘troupes’ of Guisers who visited over Xmas in the late 1860’s.

from well-dressing…

tissi_wells_2010
Well dressing (also once known as well flowering) is a summer custom practised in rural England in which wells, springs or other water sources are decorated with designs created from flower petals. The custom is most closely associated with the Peak District of Derbyshire and Staffordshire.

to the Common Ground approach and earth-water-air-fire…

earth-air-fire-water

the Seasons give form to our existence. Their roots enable us to steady our fast moving and transient pace of modern life and can – if only momentarily – put us in touch with the archaeology of our own histories. After all it’s not so many generations ago that we’d have been defined by the Seasons to a degree that’s hard to imagine today.

Any account of the traditional festive year and the passing culture of the seasons could be criticised as mere nostalgia – a morbid affection for the remembrance of times past, an elegiac form of cultural genealogy, and unhealthy fascination with roots and origins; in short, a typical symptom of the English malady of melancholia. I could also be accused of being more sentimental than analytical in my attitude towards folk traditions. Yet even now those same traditions remain fluid as well as knowing and, sometimes, ironical. The festive calendar is diverse and often antithetical, always changing and perpetually reinvented, elusive and fugitive… p326 The Seasons by Nick Groom

20140204-143545.jpg

Advertisements

One thought on “Seasonal Stories

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s