Midwinter Revels – A Celebration of the Solstice

Blogs

05.13.2022

“Long before there was a Christmas, man celebrated at this time of the year upon noticing the return of the sun to higher elevations in the sky. Pagan rituals sprang up around this event, later to become tangled with Christian lore, which called for a celebration at a nearly identical date. Folk dances, songs, and plays often blended and blurred the pagan and Christian traditions. The result was a unique type of expression that was both wild and holy.”

-John Langstaff (Taken from the first Christmas Revels program note, 1971)

                                                                                                  

This year we are using the title “Midwinter Revels” to more accurately describe our seasonal celebration which, this year, will feature Irish, Mexican and Jewish cultures.


A Revels Christmas is unique. To more accurately describe the popular annual event, “The Christmas Revels” might have been written with a small “c .“  As imagined by its founder, Jack Langstaff, Christmas Revels was a hybrid communal celebration created from two powerful elements – the first being the oldest known and near-universal festival in the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice, and the second, a festival that was a big deal in the Langstaff family – Christmas. The ensuing 50 years of joyful theatrical and musical events brought those two elements together creating a distinctive perennial event entitled: “The Christmas Revels – a celebration of the winter solstice.”  Inevitably, audiences have shortened it to “The Christmas Revels.”  That abbreviation has been handy, but over the years has influenced potential audiences, schools, and funders who may reasonably have perceived Revels as a faith-based organization. By contrast, the Christian narrative tangled with its pagan roots is told in Revels more as folktale than as dogma. Carols and rounds are sung with emphasis on the pleasure of community singing rather than as articles of faith, and the deep mysteries of life, death, and regeneration expressed in music, ritual, and drama are acknowledged as involving all of humanity irrespective of race, creed or religion. 


At this half-century mark of Revels history, we are engaged, along with every other arts organization, in a period of introspection, learning, and change as we address issues of systemic racism, inequality, and unintended bias within our organizations. Although in the past we have invited and included performers and material of all faith backgrounds under the banner of The Christmas Revels, we are taking the opportunity this year to emphasize the inclusive nature of this unique Revels hybrid. We hope that you will join with us in joyfully widening our circle of friends and community.


Great joy to the new!

Patrick Swanson
Artistic Director



share this story on social media

Related Stories
See More
Announcements
05.19.2022
Chorus Auditions for The Midwinter Revels: A Celebration of the Solstice

Read More

Blogs
05.13.2022
Midwinter Revels – A Celebration of the Solstice

Read More

Blogs
03.19.2022
Revels Spring Sing Artist Spotlight: Dr. Kathy Bullock

Read More

Blogs
03.11.2022
Revels Spring Sing Artist Spotlight: Claire Dickson

Read More

Announcements
02.21.2022
In Memory of Ashley Bryan

Read More

Blogs
01.03.2022
Common Pursuits in Different Suits

Read More

Reviews
01.01.2022
The Sleepless Critic: ‘Christmas Revels In Celebration of Winter Solstice’ a clever

Read More

Reviews
12.31.2021
The Arts Fuse: “The Christmas Revels 2021” — As Usual, Rising in

Read More

Reviews
12.31.2021
Joyce’s Choices: The Christmas Revels

Read More

Reviews
12.23.2021
New England Theater Mirror: Christmas Revels Returns to Sanders Theater

Read More

Announcements
12.21.2021
Revels, Inc. Names Elijah Botkin as New Music Director

Read More

Reviews
12.20.2021
Boston Globe Review: The ‘Christmas Revels’ celebrates a new direction

Read More

Announcements
12.11.2021
Behind the Scenes at Revels

Read More

Blogs
11.23.2021
Thanks Giving

Read More

Blogs
10.08.2021
Meet Arkansas Light, Christmas Revels Production Stage Manager

Read More

Blogs
09.22.2021
Artist Spotlight: Ken Field

Read More

Volunteer Spotlight
01.26.2021
Volunteer Spotlight: Haley Fisher

Read More

Reviews
12.29.2020
The Sleepless Critic Review: Christmas Revels 50th virtual anniversary delivers mirth, merriment,

Read More

Reviews
12.23.2020
Review: Christmas Classics – Virtual Editions and Good as New!!

Read More

Reviews
12.19.2020
Boston Globe Review: This virtual Christmas Revels is a virtual triumph

Read More

Volunteer Spotlight
11.10.2020
Volunteer Spotlight: Rachel Grygorcewicz

Read More

Volunteer Spotlight
10.29.2020
Volunteer Spotlight: Nick Browse

Read More

Volunteer Spotlight
10.01.2020
Volunteer Spotlight: Ross Hall

Read More

Volunteer Spotlight
08.26.2020
Volunteer Spotlight: Harvey Cohen

Read More

Volunteer Spotlight
08.05.2020
Volunteer Spotlight: Cathie Ghorbani

Read More

Volunteer Spotlight
07.07.2020
Volunteer Spotlight: Mari Young

Read More

Volunteer Spotlight
06.30.2020
Volunteer Spotlight: Julie Smith

Read More

Blogs
05.19.2020
David Zooms to Perkins

Read More

Volunteer Spotlight
05.13.2020
Volunteer Spotlight: John Recroft

Read More

Blogs
04.30.2020
MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY!

Read More

Reviews
12.19.2019
Review: Christmas Revels Brings Its Special Cheer to Depression Era America

Read More

Reviews
12.19.2019
BWW Review: THE CHRISTMAS REVELS: A Long Tradition of Community Forged Through

Read More

Reviews
12.17.2019
Theater Review: The Christmas Revels – American Version

Read More

Reviews
12.16.2019
REVIEW: Nearly 50, Christmas Revels is better than ever

Read More

Reviews
12.14.2019
REVIEW: This Christmas Revels goes to the American heartland

Read More

Blogs
11.21.2019
Thanksgiving

Read More

Blogs
06.21.2019
Solstice Duality

Read More

Blogs
03.19.2019
Happy Spring!

Read More

Reviews
12.20.2018
REVIEW: Christmas Revels Celebrates the ‘Other’ Great White North

Read More

Reviews
12.18.2018
REVIEW: ‘The Christmas Revels’ points north

Read More

Reviews
12.18.2018
Theater Review: The Christmas Revels – A Wonderful Nordic Celebration

Read More

Blogs
11.12.2018
Just Add Audience

Read More

Blogs
06.21.2018
The Longest Day

Read More

Blogs
05.16.2018
A Magical Experience: The Making of a CD

Read More

Blogs
02.14.2018
Malibu 2018

Read More

Reviews
12.27.2017
REVIEW: Revels’ ‘Venetian Celebration’ glitters

Read More

Reviews
12.13.2017
REVIEW: Old World Music, Comedy from Renaissance Era Lights Up Christmas Revels

Read More

Blogs
12.12.2017
St. Nicholas in Bohemia: Mikulas Eve

Read More

Reviews
12.10.2017
REVIEW: A handsome ‘Christmas Revels’ brings the party to Venice

Read More

Reviews
12.01.2017
A liberating holiday performance

Read More

Blogs
11.30.2017
The Master of the Revels

Read More

Blogs
06.21.2017
The Solstice Stands Revealed

Read More

Announcements
06.15.2017
Revels is here! Revels is here!

Read More

Blogs
05.24.2017
Striding Arches

Read More

Blogs
04.18.2017
Moonlighting with Shakespeare

Read More

Blogs
02.23.2017
What Blizzard?

Read More

Reviews
12.14.2016
Christmas Revels Enchants with Celebration of Acadian, Cajun Cultures

Read More

Announcements
12.12.2016
The Holy and the Broken Hallelujah Or How I learned to stop

Read More

Reviews
12.12.2016
This Acadian-Cajun Christmas Revels lets the good times roll

Read More

Reviews
12.04.2016
Annual Christmas Revels’ production fills the stage with delight

Read More

Blogs
06.06.2016
A Music Director Reflects

Read More

Blogs
04.11.2016
Fenway’s Ritual Earth

Read More

Announcements
03.08.2016
Welcome to Our New Music Director

Read More

Blogs
02.17.2016
Reflections on Malibu

Read More

Reviews
12.14.2015
‘Christmas Revels’ finally makes it to Wales

Read More

Blogs
12.10.2015
Christmas Revels – Looking Back and Looking Forward

Read More

Blogs
10.26.2015
Dylan Thomas: the intersection where poetry and drama meet

Read More

Announcements
09.16.2015
Revels Music Director George Emlen Announces His Retirement

Read More

Blogs
08.24.2015
Giving Voice

Read More

Blogs
07.17.2015
A Revels Director in Wales

Read More

Blogs
06.19.2015
Summer solstice: the year’s circus act

Read More

Reviews
06.12.2015
The Boston Globe profiles harpist Maeve Gilchrist and Revels FRINGE

Read More

Announcements
05.27.2015
Reporting on Education at Revels

Read More

Blogs
05.11.2015
The Great Flying Machine Race

Read More

Blogs
05.01.2015
The Wheel of the World

Read More

Blogs
04.13.2015
What’s Your Version of the Revels Elephant?

Read More

Announcements
01.26.2015
Farewell from Steve

Read More

Announcements
01.14.2015
Summer Camp

Read More

Reviews
12.17.2014
Fuse Theater Review: The Christmas Revels – Charming English Music Hall Edition

Read More

Reviews
12.17.2014
The Boston Globe Review: For Christmas Revels, a welcome return to Victorian

Read More

Reviews
12.16.2014
Events Insider Review: Christmas Revels Brings Victorian Dance Hall Celebration to Sanders

Read More

Reviews
12.15.2014
TAB Newspapers Theater Review: Revels transports audiences to Victorian England

Read More

Blogs
12.11.2014
The Crystal Palace

Read More

Blogs
09.16.2014
Don’t Blame Persephone

Read More

Blogs
07.07.2014
From the FRINGE: Who’s Maeve Listening to?

Read More

Blogs
06.20.2014
Solstice Fires

Read More

Blogs
04.25.2014
Patriot’s Day – My Favorite Holiday

Read More

Announcements
04.14.2014
A Forum on Arts Funding

Read More

Blogs
03.18.2014
Spring Forward

Read More

Blogs
03.03.2014
The Itinerant Musician

Read More

Announcements
02.05.2014
Welcome to the Revels blog

Read More

Stay up to date
with Revels.
Sign up to receive email updates on performances, events, and news coming from Revels.