Category Archives: New Years Eve

FLAMING BALLS I HEAR YOU SAY

It is a little-known fact that Christmas was not celebrated in Scotland for around 400 years from the latter end of the 16th Century (after the reign of James 1st England – son of Mary Queen of Scots) right the way through to the middle of the 20th century.

The head of the Church of Scotland regarded the festive celebrations as ‘Popish’ or Catholic in origin and banned any Christmas events in support. He thought that all celebrations were firmly against Christian teachings and as such, if it was not in scripture, it was not down to the people to create their own meanings so there were to be absolutely no celebrations, hymns or carol singing in the Bible. This extreme behaviour did not actually stop the celebrations by those who followed the pagan tradition of using fire to clear out evil spirits.

The Pagan festival of Hogmanay, however, has its roots deep in the history of a wide number of areas around Northern England and Scotland with special pagan festivals being held in Flamborough in North Yorkshire, Biggar in Strathclyde, Allendale in Northumberland and Comrie in Tayside as well as the biggest in the UK in Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire. All the festivals have events which include fires, tar barrel carrying and of course, those flaming balls.

Up in Stonehaven, the procession and celebrations for New Year have garnered interest from around the world and today, the parade brings in visitors of around 10,000 to witness firsthand the spectacle of the swinging fireballs. The balls are wire mesh cages tightly packed with old cloth, newspapers and coal briquets and the cage is then tied with wire before a handle is added to enable it to be swung around the head of the carrier. They are soaked in paraffin to ensure that they stay alight in the bitter winds off the Scottish Harbourside. Crowds gather at 10.30 for the beginning of the parade to take full advantage of the street entertainment which builds up to the Town Hall clock chiming midnight when 40 men and women take to the streets with their flaming balls aloft and they continue to swing them overhead throughout the parade to the waterfront when they are swung (like when they release the hammer in athletics) and released into the harbour. At 12.25 in the morning, once all the cages are extinguished, the fireworks are launched high above the road over the Stonehaven harbour can be seen from miles around.

The event in Allendale is a little different as they carry aloft barrels of Tar (yes, on top of their heads – utter barmpots I know!). This is only carried out by the 45 ‘Hereditary’ Barrel carriers so you have to be related to one of the previous ‘guiser’s’ (from the word disguise).

Whilst the world and its wife agree that ‘fire’ events are Pagan in origin, there are definitely Viking influences as one of the oldest ‘first footing’ rules is that the man who comes to the door has to be tall and dark whereas the majority of the Viking raiders would have been blonde obviously the bringer of troubles.

There is one thing for certain, however, we choose to drive out the bad spirits of the last year in readiness for the good one ahead, they almost all involve fire, fireworks and whisky so long may we continue.

If you are in need of fireworks for a small family celebration or a full display for a New year cocktail party, we have a huge range of beautiful pyrotechnics on offer to bring it in in style.

WELCOMING THE NEW YEAR AROUND THE WORLD

New Year here in the UK is of course time for the adults to celebrate having spent weeks shopping for gifts and food for Christmas, it is time to let your hair down.

Of course, we are all aware of how the UK celebrates and when but around the World of course, in some cases more than half a day ahead of us, there are countries popping the champagne and filling the skies with fireworks as 2018 arrives.

The first country to see in the New Year is Samoa but preceded by Kiritimati (aka Christmas Island) at 10 in the morning (UK time) and the last are some of the more remote islands off the coast of the USA.

Here in the UK, Scotland has ‘first footing’ which is a tradition in which the first person to cross the threshold should be a tall, dark male and he should carry coal, a coin or two, an evergreen branch (a Scottish pine or similar) shortbread or oat biscuits and of course a ‘wee dram’. The list of ‘gifts’ is an odd one but they all represent different things for the year ahead. The coal is for warmth, the coin is for wealth, the evergreen for long life and health, shortbread for food and the dram for good cheer and a little bon vivant.

In order of when midnight strikes in each country here you go:

SAMOA 10AM
NEW ZEALAND 11AM
AUSTRALIA MID-DAY – 1PM (HUGE COUNTRY NUMEROUS TIMEZONES)
JAPAN 3PM
CHINA 4PM
THAILAND 5PM
BANGLADESH 6PM
INDIA 6.30PM
PAKISTAN 7PM
AFGHANISTAN 7.30PM
RUSSIA (MOSCOW) 9PM
GREECE 10PM
GERMANY AND MOST EUROPEAN CAPITALS 11PM
UK 12 MIDNIGHT

Whilst a great many of them around the globe will celebrate with fireworks they also have a few ‘oddities’.

In Japan, it is tradition to ring bells 108 times whereas over in Spain, they eat one grape on each strike of the clock to midnight for 12 months of good health. In Denmark, you would not be surprised to wake up to plates smashed on the doorstep whereas over in Bucharest, children dress as bears to protect and heal. They all, in their own way, go towards hoping that the forthcoming year will be good and we will all be blessed with good health, wealth and warmth which is not a bad thing.

If you are looking for some fireworks to drive out those evil spirits (or to get you to imbibe a few more of the bottled kind of spirit) then we have a massive range of fireworks to get you in the party mood. With everything from a single massive rocket to a display in a box, we are bound to have something to suit. Please note that if you are either in the Highlands or in deepest darkest Cornwall, please make sure your order is received in plenty of time to get the goodies to you to avoid disappointment.

EDINBURGH HOGMANAY 31st DECEMBER 2017

Join in one of the biggest events in the Scottish calendar. Show the rest of the world how to party by joining in one of the events on offer.

Edinburgh Hogmanay is one of the top 100 things to do before you die and has also appeared in the top 25 world travel experiences.

From traditional Scottish music and dance and firelit torches beside the fantastic lit Edinburgh castle to dancing away with some of the most popular stars in princes’s street gardens, there is a range of many things to do and something for every member of the family to enjoy.

Start the night early in the Bairns Afore party with plenty family fun and entertainment lined up and all this before bedtime for the little ones in your group. Or if you await the clock striking 12 on NYE and join in the main event at a concert in the park in princes’s park and celebrate late into the night with music, food and drink stalls galore then be in the best spot for the prestigious fireworks display at 12.

If you dare celebrate Edinburgh style become a Loony Duck dress up in your wackiest outfit and march the highstreets before dunking yourself in the cold waters of the river forth all in the name of charity.

On the other hand, if you want to stay warm and dry there is plenty of vantage points along the high streets with cafes and bars setting tables outside so you can witness the events unfolding but these get booked up quickly so make sure you book in advance

With so many things going off on different dates and places here are the key dates so make sure you put them in your diary.

Key dates

· Torchlight Procession: Wednesday 30th December 7pm
· Bairns Afore: Sunday 31st December 5pm
· Street Party: Sunday 31st December 7pm
· Ceilidh under the Castle with Edinburgh Gin: Sunday 31st December 8pm
· Concert in the Gardens: Sunday 31st December 8pm
· Loony Dook: Monday 1st January 10.30am
· Message From The Skies: 1st – 25th January, 5.30pm onwards

Happy New Year from Edinburgh