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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 Read More »
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.
6th January - Twelfth Night marks the end of the traditional Yule festival. It is also Old Christmas Day in the Julian Calendar.
This takes place on the Monday following twelfth night. Ploughs were traditionally blessed in churches at this time, to ready them for the coming of spring.
25 January - The birthday of Robert Burns, Scotland's greatest bard, traditionally celebrated with a Burns supper, a meal at which his poems are recited.
The Goodwin Sands is a treacherous sand bank in the Channel a few miles off Deal, which has been the site of litterally hundreds of shipwrecks in centuries past, one of the last notable victims being the Ross Revenge, last of the pirate radio ships, in 1991. Read More »
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. Read More »
25 July - The horn fair is a centuries old that was revived in Ebernoe in 1864. The current festivities aurround a cricket match between the Ebernoe team and that of a nearby village. The highest scoring batsman receives a pair of horns taken from a sheep that the villages had been roasting throughout the day.
Horn Fair Song Read More »
4 July - Whalton Baal Festival is a traditional Midsummer fire festival, probably deriving from Celtic times. Baal derives from an old word for light.
15 July - The Bishop of Winchester or St Swithin died in AD 862. In legend the monks could not remove his body for 40 days and 40 nights because of torrential rain. It has now become folklore that if it rains on St Swithins day, it will rain for 40 days and 40 nights.
5 July - An open air meeting on Tynwald Hill, said to have been built from a portion of the soil from each region of the island. Read More »
2 February - Candle Mass is a Christian festival of blessing the candles.
1 February - St Brigit is a Christianised version of Brighid or Bride, a goddess associated with the beginning of spring, once widely venerated in by the Celts.
2nd February - The annual street ball game in Jedburgh, it said to have originally been played with the severed heads of border raiders.
14 February - An ancient festival dedicated later to St Valentine. It is associated with love and marriage. In the past some of its customs involved looking into the future to try and reveal the identity of future partners.
3 February - Blessing the throats at St Etheldreda's Church, Ely Place, London. Throat complaint sufferers are blessed by invoking St Blaise, the patron Saint of people with throat problems
30 November - St Andrews Day, patron Saint of Scotland.
23 November - The Patron Saint of Iron workers, it is possibly an earlier festival date of Wayland or another smith god.
11 November - The feast of St Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier who became famous as a bishop. It marked the onset of winter time proper.
5 November - Celebration to commemorate the saving of the Houses of Parliament from the Gunpowder Plotters in 1605. The festival was decreed by an act of parliament. It is celebrated with bonfires and fireworks and the traditional burning of a dummy called the Guy. The original plotters were hung, drawn and quartered in London. Read More »
2 November - All Souls Day is related to Samhain and commemorating the dead.
30th April - Walpurgis Night, Beltane Eve, the Celtic Fire Festival celebrating the coming of summer.
28 April - Start of the Roman festival of Florania, to the goddess of flowering plants and sexuality.