Robert Burns was born on the 25th January 1759 during the ‘Age of Enlightenment’ but also in a time when the country superstitions and supernatural beings were an integral part of folk belief. The landscape of Burns’ was one where the natural rhythms of nature were much more intertwined in the day to day of working life.
Wassailing the Apple Trees or Apple Howling as it is known in Sussex is a festival to bless the apple trees to ensure a good crop in the coming year. The event takes place on Twelfth Night after dark. A horn is blown and Morris Men form a torch lit procession to the oldest and strongest apple tree where they form a ring.
Wassail originates from the Old English "waes hael", meaning "be well". It is a mulled cider or ale seasoned with honey and spices. Wassailing the apple trees is a traditional way of blessing th etrees to ensure a good harvest. Villagers would gather around the apple trees making a racket to awaken the tree spirits and scare away any lingering deamons. The strongest tre
Up-Helly-Aa is a Norse festival on Shetland during which a replica Viking longship is burned. It is to celebrate the 24th day after Christmas, or Up Helly Night. The festival is relatively new in Lerwick (early 19th Century) and has evolved over time. In 1840 a tar barrel raft was burned as part of the proceedings. By the 1870’s the long ship and Norse costumes were introduced.
11th January -The Burning the Clavie is a celebration of the Old New Year from the Julian calendar. A large wooden fire brand made from a barrel called the Clavie, is set on fire and then smashed by the Clavie King. Pieces of the Clavie are kept for luck. The festival probably has very ancient origins.
Some sources say this festival takes place on the Monday after twelfth night (Plough Monday), the tuesday following Plough Monday or the Saturday. Either way, a man is dressed from head to foot in straw bundles and dances around the town of Whittlesey, going from house to house looking for gifts of food, money and beer.
The abbey is said to be haunted by Eleanor of Aquataine – Henry II’s queen, who was exiled here before her death in France in 1204.
Monks also celebrated a feast of fools here on New Years Day; the festival was thought to be christianised version of the Roman festivals Saturnalia, and Bachanalia.