Today I am reviewing A Bit About Britain’s High Days and Holidays by Mike Biles, the second of Mike’s books that I have reviewed and enjoyed.
About the book
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 for the book 23rd January 2021
This book is not only an entertaining and informative guide to the history of the high days and holidays we celebrate in Britain, but also an excellent reference book for authors and visitors to the country.
Mike Biles has a unique style of delivery that encourages absorption of the facts and myths surrounding days that we often celebrate without much thought behind their origins. Even our Patron Saints of the countries in Britain, have stories that are complicated by legends and embellishments by the ancient storytellers who brought their exploits to our shores.
Visitors from other parts of the world I am sure, find some of our traditions and celebrations bemusing, which is why I recommend this book as a guide to the oddities they might encounter. Also, with a calendar of events throughout the year with descriptions of the proceedings to hand, it makes it much easier to plan a tour to get in touch with the real British traditions.
Authors will find it a great resource when including references to religious, cultural or fixed holidays celebrated throughout the year in their writings. This includes Christmas which has a whole section dedicated to its traditions and foods in a comprehensive A-Z.
I found history pretty heavy going at school, as it always seemed to be date obsessed, with little time spent on the characters involved. In this book, and in A Bit About Britain’s History, It is a completely different story, and I have probably learnt more in a few hours than I did in seven years.
I highly recommend this book to add to your shelves. You will find yourself dipping in and out of the various sections for a long time to come whenever you have a question about Britain’s history and high days and holidays.
Also by Mike Biles
Mike Biles has lived in Britain all his life and generally loves the place, warts and all. He first learned history on his dad’s knee and went on to study medieval and modern British and European history at university. He was planning on teaching it, but then drifted into a career running his own business. Despite having worked with some of the UK’s most prestigious firms, he is often at his happiest with his nose in a history book, or exploring a historic site where the past is close. Several years ago, Mike began a blog – now an increasingly authoritative website – ‘A Bit About Britain’. He had to write a bit about Britain’s history for the website, and it seemed only sensible to put the material into his first book.
Thanks for visiting today and I hope you have enjoyed the review and will explore Mike’s books in more detail.. thanks Sally.