Last night the new year arrived on the north coast of Scotland in the tiny fishing villages which keep to the old Julian calendar holidays. In Burghead a fiery procession wound its way sunwise through the town, bringing bits of luck to the doorsteps of the people there.
On top of a flame-covered hilltop, the last bit of the Clavie, which is the name for the burning barrel carried through the town, burnt to the ground as people cheered. And so, the new year began.
There used to be celebrations like this one in many towns on the north coast of Scotland, but this is the last one that remains. I wrote about the Clavie last year too, so have a look here if you are interested in reading more.
As we made our way home, reeking of smoke and tar and full of stovies, clutching our piece of the Clavie to bring us luck, my mind moved back and forth over this past year and on to thoughts of the one sitting ahead.
I have been a little too much in dreamland the past couple of weeks and the time to get back to work and the regular pattern of daily life has come, I think. I have been gathering ideas around me, and I'm looking forward to bringing them out into the world, or at least my little corner of it.
Going back in time eleven days from last night, to the more commonly accepted time for celebrating New Year's Eve, we found ourselves at another fire festival. The photos below come from the fireball celebration in the town of Stonehaven, just south of Aberdeen.
This festival is much larger and also includes a pipe band, a drum group, and fireworks at the end. You can read more about it in last year's post on the same subject. We had a lovely night out, standing about waiting for midnight and learning about life in Kazakhstan and Borneo from a visitor met by chance, and then the hush and roar as bunches of fire went whirling past us... sometimes only just missing us as we stepped quickly back!
There is something hypnotic in these fire processions. Watching as the flames blaze past in the dark street, or trailing along behind them, emotions balance out between excitement and strange awe.
More than candy-coloured fireworks ever could, these raw flaming processions make a deep and dramatic impression. I hope that these tiny glimpses of flames and sparks will warm and quicken you a bit. Thank you for passing this past year with me and my thoughts. May you make your dreams come true this year!
|Throwing fireballs in the sea.|