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The Christmas Revels
England’s Mellstock Band in this year's Christmas Revels show. (Photo: Roger  Ide)

England’s Mellstock Band in this year's Christmas Revels show. Photo: Roger Ide

When the days grow short, the night long and cold, humans gather and sing — at a fireside, an advent wreath, a menorah.

For thirty-eight years — and now all around the country — crowds have been gathering for the Christmas Revels. Winter solstice dance and song and carol, from Renaissance Italy, Armenia, Georgia, Mexico, Sephardic wanderers, and America’s Underground Railway.

This year, the Revels have gone back to their roots in old England, with a tale from Thomas Hardy and the English countryside.

This hour, On Point: Winter solstice, and the Christmas Revels.

You can join the conversation. When it’s dark and cold, in the depth of winter, are you ready for some revelry? Have you done it with the Christmas revels?

Guests:

With us in our studio are…

Patrick “Paddy” Swanson, artistic director of the Christmas Revels.

George Emlen, music director of the Christmas Revels.

Dave Townsend, founder of the Mellstock Band of Oxford, England. He plays the concertina.

Mary Casey, traditional singer and featured soloist with the Christmas Revels.

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  • http://earlymemories Amy

    I went to the Christmas revels over in Medford, MA, when I was a kid, probably about 11 or 12. More than 20 years later I still remember the joy of dancing around the theater in long lines with my family and throngs of people I didn’t know as we all sang “dance dance whoever you may be.” My family listens to the record every year on Christmas day. The idea of getting to get out of my seat and dance during the performance was so wonderful. Thank you for that.

  • Ellen

    Every year that St. Paul, Minnesota had a Revels performance, I was in the front row on opening night. The Revels WERE Christmas for me; after the performance, I didn’t care what else the season did, or did not, bring. Sadly, the Minnesota Revels disbanded after 5 or 6 years. Some year, I hope to time my trip to NH for the holidays so as to be able to attend Revels either in Cambridge or Hanover. Until then, I must rely on the recorded music and my memory–a pale shadow of the real thing.

  • M

    I listened to the latter part of the show while in my car and am so glad to be able to hear the entirety through the podcast. Revels at any time of year is a gem. I’ve been to Sea Revels for maritime traditional music and enjoyed that concert. I’ve been to solstice productions in Boston, Hanover, Philadelphia, and New York. Each year renews and extends the cultural heritage of whatever region or country is the theme that year. I recomment the podcast and On Point’s many other wonderful discussions to my friends and students. It’s great to have a way to re-visit shows. Thanks!

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