Welcome back you! If you have come back to read this one, I suppose I didn’t do too badly with the last post. Cheers to that! If you weren’t able to read the last one but found your way to this one, don’t worry, you haven’t missed much (but you are welcome to read that one- history and traditions – before this if you like). So today, I will take you through the torchlight procession and the street parties.
On the 30th of December, there is a beautiful torchlight procession organized in Edinburgh that you are welcome to participate in or just watch. Participation means money of course (in this bad bad world) so I chose to watch. Again I asked some locals about what the torchlight procession was all about…I think the locals have better stories to tell than Google does. The lady I spoke to is a colleague but is born and bred in Scotland, so I thought she might have interesting things to say. You could read and decide if I was right 🙂
The torchlight procession, she said, was possibly reminiscent of the pagan ways of celebrating the winter solstice. She also thought that the fireworks were on the same lines. It was a way to keep the traditions of the Norsemen alive in some sense. Or maybe it was just something they left behind and people continue because it looks beautiful and festive. She also shared that one of the best displays of fireworks happens in Aberdeen, just north of Edinburgh. But I have to tell you now that the fireworks here were spectacular. And if Aberdeen is better, it’s beyond my imagination. But more about the fireworks later.
On an interesting note, she said something about the tradition of wearing animal hide (cattle mostly) and walking around the streets to be hit by sticks by passers-by and onlookers…something about this being the traditional new year activity or something. How strange, I thought!
On the evening of 30th December I put on some nice clothes and looked pretty before I headed out covered in a couple of additional layers to keep me warm. And I walked around to the city center, not knowing what to expect. I had consciously avoided looking at images on Google before I left because I wanted to be surprised. Before I even reached the city center, I saw the procession of hundreds of people carrying torchlight flames, waving them into the air, walking along the roads. Some groups sang and some others giggled and laughed and talked. But they all walked. I stopped for a second, to take it all in. It looked spectacular from a distance. I joined the other hundreds of people who stood watching this procession. The procession ended at Calton Hill with a fantastic display of fireworks a couple of hours before midnight. And with that, the festive spirit sank in. It was New Year’s Eve the next day! Yay.
The New Year’s Eve was another normal day for me. Until the evening. I again dressed in pretty clothes (this time wondering why I even took that effort, considering I was only going to be outdoors so all one could see was my coat and hat and scarf!). I started my evening with a nice time at a pub listening to my friend’s band perform – they are called the SeaBassKid and they play some amazing dance worthy music. What a start to Hogmanay I thought. My friends called around 10:30 PM to ask where I was and asked me to join them near Princess Street Gardens as soon as I could. I started walking in that direction, not knowing what I was about to face! I could hear some song and dance at a distance. I walked in that general direction. Suddenly I saw roads barricaded and hundreds and hundreds of people dancing the Ceilidh (the Scottish traditional dance) in the middle of the road with live bands playing the music! Wow! I had a wrist band that gave me entry into that barricaded area. I put my bags on one side and joined the crowd for a few minutes of Ceilidh. It was magical and a lot of fun. I didn’t want to stop but I had to meet my friends. I then walked and turned into the next street to see open air concerts. The crowd was going crazy cheering for the performers, singing along and breaking out into impromptu gigs. The lights flashed onto the old stone buildings and made dazzling patterns of butterflies fluttering by, abstract shapes, dancers and snowflakes. I stood there admiring all of this but again, had to move on.
In a few minutes I found myself at the entrance to the Street Parties…loud music blaring from speakers and people dancing all around it with their friends. I had the wrist band so I could enter the Street Parties too. I was suddenly pulled into it by a stranger. I skipped a beat because I thought I was going to be mugged! I turned around, my face must have given my fear away. He only wanted to dance with me. And so did the many others who were with him. I couldn’t stop myself from joining them. And I found my friends dancing too, just a few metres away. I had never been on a street party before and so this was special. The energy was infectious, the music was amazing, the spirit was madness! People of all ages sang and danced as if there was no tomorrow…I took a moment to say thanks to myself, for having decided to move to Edinburgh!!! What a night so far…couldn’t wait for more…
On an interesting note, I heard someone say that there were 80,000 people this year on the streets of Edinburgh, dancing the night away 🙂
Do you think you will come back again to hear about the fireworks, the count down and the sound of HAPPY NEW YEAR??? See you really soon with a post describing all that a lot more…Have a lovely day!