Thursday, January 12, 2012
Though my calendar shows 12 January, it is actually January 1st ... according to the Julian Calendar, accepted in Britain until 1752 (in Alaska until 1867 and Russia until 1917).
That means last night must have been Hogmanay and a night of celebration! And so it was for the folk of Burghead in North East Scotland who celebrate with a fire festival, the Burning of the Clavie, every 11 January.
What is it about Scotland and fire festivals? At Hogmanay in Stonehaven near Aberdeen locals make up balls of chicken wire which they fill with flammable material and march through the streets, swinging the burning balls round their heads, accompanied by a pipe band.
In Shetland at ceremonies called Up Helly Aa they throw burning torches into a replica viking ship.
It's all a wonderful excuse for bringing the community together and brightening up the long nights with a good bonfire and a party!