Hello everyone! I would like to share with you a very interesting topic about a huge Scottish celebration not widely known for us, called “Up Helly Aa”.
Up Helly Aa is a traditional fire (yes, fire!) festival that originated in the 1880s in the Shetland town of Lerwick, Scotland. Since then, the festival has been an annual occurrence for centuries, taking place on the last days of January.
But where did this remarkable practice come from?...
Marking the end of Christmas and New Year, this carnival is a celebration about Shetland history based in an older Yule tradition of tar barreling, when squads of young men dragging barrels of burning tar through town on sledges, making disasters and mischiefs. Over the years, the tradition became more and more elaborate, introducing Viking themes, music, dances, torch processions and a replica of a Viking Galley to be burned!
Today the Up Helly Aa every year show us how a thousand of streetlights are off and the streets shrouded in darkness when nearly a thousand torches are simultaneously lit and the procession sets off for the site where the Viking galley is then burned. Can you imagine that magical picture?
But before that, all squads (each about 20 men) spend the whole night visiting twelve festival halls. They present a dance routine or other specially rehearsed act for the hall’s community host group, dance with one of the host ladies then leave.
Honestly I think the interesting and awesome fact here is that the Scottish people can see how around 900 costumed "guizers", complete with winged helmets, sheepskins and axes and shields, goes to the streets to recreate the town's ancient past.
They can revive their history every year giving to the people a deep sense of belonging and make a very realistic travel to their roots.
I leave with you a video, enjoy it! :)...