Paperbacks: The English Year by Steve Roud

Penguin £9.99
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The Independent Culture

Readers dismayed by mid-Atlantic mush will warm to this madly erudite day-by-day chronicle of English customs and festivals, from the truly immemorial (May Day frolics) to the frankly phoney (we can hardly "bring back" St George's Day as, traditionally, it was never there).

Roud is a genial and deeply learned guide to the sacred, the silly and the downright weird. So happy St Bride's Day – and tomorrow is Candlemas, a genuine popular highlight snuffed out by the Reformation.