|Lochmabengate Port - we'd like to know a bit more about the gates and customs arising from the Guid Nychburris route, any suggestions?|
Although there are other March Riding traditions across the border and beyond, each having grown it’s own unique customs and traditions – and we’ve been thinking slightly further afield at the origins of tradition in community based and led festivals:
From the ancient and obscure, such as Ottery St Mary’s Flaming Tar Barrels tradition: part of their annual carnival on the 5th November. “The exact origins are unknown but probably started after the gunpowder plot of 1605. Various alternative reasons suggested for burning barrels have included fumigation of cottages and as a warning of the approach of the Spanish armada.”
To the more modern adaptations – take the Edinburgh Beltane Fire Festival (coincidentally this week) for example, which only started up in 1988 but harks back to the celtic Beltane festival that traditionally took place at this time of year. At what point do these events go from being a bit of fun to a ‘venerable tradition’?
A shortlist of some of the curatorial team’s favourite festivals:
The Baby Jumping Festival
Or, “El Colacho” dates back to 1620 and is a Spanish ritual involving men dressed as the devil in red and yellow jumpsuits paired with modern running shoes, jumping over babies born in the previous twelve months; thought to bless the newborn children and remove original sin, preparing them for a life on God’s true path.
Which needs little introduction, but sees the creation of a temporary community for a week each year in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. “The Burning Man organization (Black Rock City LLC) creates the infrastructure of Black Rock City, wherein attendees (or "participants") dedicate themselves to the spirit of community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. They depart one week later, leaving no trace.”
Up Helly Aa
Although first appearances may suggest a harking back to ancient Viking celebrations, Up Helly Aa is actually a relatively modern – having grown out of wild Christmas holiday celebrations. The current form, including guizing and torchlit procession was first introduced in the around 1870.
The Hindu festival celebrating the end of Winter and the arriving Spring – sees social rules and expectations relaxed in India, “Social barriers are broken as people of all ages, genders, castes, and wealth gather together and celebrate the festival. In fact, it is said that one can get away with almost any kind of behavior on the day of Holi by saying "bura na mano holi hai," or, "don't mind, it is Holi."
Palnackie Flounder Tramping Championships
Naturally, we couldn’t miss out the more local eccentric festivals. Palnackie’s Flounder Tramping Festival has been missing from the calander the past few years, but rumour has it is due to make a comeback this year. was the brainchild of villager John Kirk, who on a sunny summer afternoon in 1973, offered a bottle of whisky to the person who could catch the biggest flounder.
And so back to Guid Nychburris. As we delve into the history of the town’s Charter and Seal, the importance of the flag and the many gates and keys along the route as well as the roles played out by the Cornet, Lass and entourage – all the pieces that add to the sense of tradition and occasion - get in touch with us! If you have any knowledge or insight into the history of Guid Nychburris, we’d love to hear from you: Fire off an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org