Midzomer In Europa * Aat van Gilst (2006 aspekt * isbn 9059114736)

Van Gilst earlier wrote another book that is reviewed in these pages called De Eeuwige Ordening (‘the eternal order’). His new book is called Midzomer In Europa, het feest van de zomerzonnewende (‘midsummer in Europe, the feast of the summer solstice’). I find De Eeuwige Ordening a nice book. Van Gilst sometimes holds theories different from my own, but his first book is very readable, highly informative and a classic about the prechristian faith in the Dutch language. Midzomer In Europa is thinner (about 200 pages) and entirely dedicated to customs around Midsummer, or the summer solstice. The book mostly consists of massive lists (but then put behind eachother like plain text) of customs and habbits surrounding the longest day in Europe. Herbs, dances, songs, rituals, fires, superstitions, you name it, Van Gilst tracked it down and noted it down. I have the impression that the writer is pretty exhaustive, even my tiny birthvillage is mentioned. The index isn’t specified enough, so you will have a hard to finding something back. Also the book doesn’t read too well since it is often merely an enumeration of facts, dates and customs. A great book if you are interested in the folklore around Midsummer, but not a book to just read for background information.

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