Happy New Year!
For Hogmanay this year we decided to take a wee trip to Stonehaven to see the Fireball Ceremony. I feel it would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge Jerry Lee Lewis at this point, so for your wonder & delight here is the great man himself. I should mention that this song was played/sung repeatedly throughout the day, perhaps to the detriment of my marriage, never mind…!
Now that’s out of the way, I can get on with the rest of the post! The origins of the ceremony are uncertain, but date back about 150 years according to the Stonehaven Guide, and was intended to scare away bad spirits. I can see why, the fireballs were certainly impressive! The “swingers” start at midnight and form a procession along the main street that lasts for about 20 minutes, before throwing the fireballs into the harbour when they get tired! I particularly liked when swingers stopped to talk to people in the crowd & would rest the fireball on the ground or pull it along the ground like they were walking a dog – it was quite comical to watch.
We had read online to wear old clothing because the sparks could cause burns in your clothing, this certainly became apparent when the jacket of little girl in front of us started to smoulder gently… Her parents were on it ASAP, and extinguished her before she’d even noticed!
We really enjoyed the atmosphere of the event; loads of families and everyone was in good spirits but no one seemed to be drunk or causing trouble. My friend even commented that the public toilets were the cleanest she’d ever been in. High praise indeed!
After the all of the fireballs have been extinguished there is a big fireworks display, which was really impressive given that Stonehaven is a reasonably small place. A brilliant way to bring in the new year – I’d highly recommend it if you were thinking about going along next year! Stonehaven was really straightforward to park in & is only a short drive from Aberdeen city centre, so don’t let limited local accommodation put you off!