The Scalloway Fire Festival. What it was: A gathering of randoms along a street in Scalloway, Shetland. All lights in the town went out. In the distance, the sound of a drum, the lilting sound of bagpipes, a chorus of yelps and hollers. Then the heat of a hundred long torches, held by men and women clad in everything from elaborate Viking costumes (below) to pink fuzzy skirts to policewomen to traditional kilts.
The randoms followed the lighted mass along Main Street to Da Waterfront, where each torch added to the lit boat structure, or galley.
And once everyone had a go, the boat was gently pushed onto the water. Pretty amazing event, and this apparently ain't nothing compared to the Lerwick Up Helly Aa.
New rumors about this tradition: The various squads, often a group of people who share a profession, make up skits and dances and songs to perform on the day. Once they've learned their part, the dress rehearsal happens. (This was yesterday for most squads.) The squad gets together in the morning, spends an hour getting drunk, then performs their entire sketch drunk - just to see if they can do it. This continues again and again until everyone can perform it perfectly whilst intoxicated.
We had a busy weekend. Spent Saturday cooking a massive Mexican fiesta for friends before heading oot to da middle a nowher for a party. (Ask me sometime about pushing Matt's car up an icy hill when we took a wrong turn.) One of the nurses at the hospital has this party annually and invites the whole hospital, though it was mainly nurses who turned up. Val and John are in their early 60s and have a wonderful house on the water - an old croft house with a beautiful extension that is the nicest home I've seen here. John is a small man with a white beard and spent the first two hours dancing and singing along to country music - he used to be a truck driver - and I tried to teach him how to two-step and line dance. Such a laugh to hear this music in this very uncommon location. Matt took his pipes and the inebriated nurses decided to trip all over themselves attempting to Riverdance. Or something. The party was to celebrate the Shetland New Year, always on 12 January, according to the Julien calendar. So at midnight, everyone toasted as Val fed everyone amazing soups, meats, cheeses, and breads. Once you're in with these folk, you're in; everyone was wonderful to us on Saturday night.
More fire...very cool!