The Sense of Summer

Throughout our evolution and cultural history summer has always been the season that has been most clearly defined in our memories and imagination. With the first wafts of warm air and the lengthening of daylight have come the opportunities to grow the food to sustain us through the cold and dark of winter and ensure our basic survival.


Motherhood in Western Europe

Insights from Western European Mothers

The changing face of motherhood — Western Europe

The accompanying reports combine a review of existing literature with an analysis of original quantitative data derived from a poll of 9,582 mothers from 12 countries in Western Europe, making it one of the largest studies of this kind ever conducted

Child Obesity and Health

An analysis of the latest available data from the Health Survey for England (HSE)

Child Obesity and Health — download the full report in pdf format

In this ‘National Childhood Obesity Week’, the SIRC report, Children, obesity and heath: Recent trends, holds up a true mirror, accurately reflecting the trend towards slimmer, healthier children. more

The Future of Freemasonry

An examination of the role of Freemasonry in the 21st century


This report is, as far as we know, an account of the first ever study that has been commissioned by Freemasons from a non-Masonic body. None of the SIRC members involved in the project are Freemasons, a fact that evoked surprise and welcome in equal measure from the Lodge members we met. more

The Changing Face of Motherhood

Insights from three generations of mothers


The report seeks to answer some specific questions about the changing face of motherhood and determine the extent to which modern ‘solutions’ to motherhood are more or less beneficial than the solutions of the past. more

The Sense of Summer

Salad Nicoise

Like many things of such profound significance, we have marked the arrival of summer, and the opportunities that it brings with it, in special rituals – our Mayday celebration, based on the ancient Celtic festival Bealtaine and other pagan ceremonies, being perhaps the most familiar. The original tributes to the reawakening of fertility and carnal desires may have been toned down a little in the way we greet May morning today, but the significance of this turning point in the year remains very much with us.

The approach of the end of summer has similarly been marked by rituals celebrating the anticipation of the fruits of the season’s fertility – the life-sustaining products of seeds sown and animals reared, for which we have thanked gods and spirits through pagan rituals and celebrations, and now commonly in the modern Christian version, Harvest Festival. Our August Bank Holiday, which follows a little later, also has more ancient roots in forgotten festivals such as Lammas than today’s traffic jams and trips to theme parks might suggest.

Less publicly celebrated these days, except by Druids and New-age Travellers, is the Summer Solstice – the middle of summer and the longest day of the year. In previous times, however, this point in the calendar was of great significance because it enabled the precise fixing of dates and, therefore, the determination of the best times to sow and a means of predicting the times to reap. It was for this reason that our ancient ancestors went to the considerable effort of building Stonehenge. Anyone who has stood within the ring of monoliths, watching the ray of light shoot from the rising sun on Midsummer’s Day to align itself as precisely through the circle’s gateway as it did when the stones were first erected five thousand years ago, cannot fail to appreciate the primordial significance of the season.

We might not take these celebrations and rituals quite so seriously now. We no longer worry about whether the harvest will be sufficient see us through the winter – the supermarkets are open all seasons. But summer continues to be a very significant time in our lives. It opens up new opportunities for enjoyment of the environment around us, the pursuit of fun and leisure and social interaction with friends and family — those essential components of a truly human life. Summer reminds us of why we are alive.

Click here to read the full report in pdf format.