Posts Tagged ‘The Royal Mile’

I’m not usually a fan of Halloween, but i decided to appease some of my friends and dress up. On saturday, we went out as the teletubbies, as seen below:

Me (Dipsy), Kristina (Tinky-Winky), Ellen (La-La), Julia (Po)

But in all honesty, I really enjoyed the festivities here in Edinburgh that actually took place on October 31st.  There is this celebration every year, called the Samhain, which was believed by scholars to be the celebration of the Celtic new year.  More importantly, its a celebration of the end of summer, the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter.  There is a large parade followed by this massive burning in the city square. The parade starts at the castle and comes down the royal mile, with lots of people dressed up in lavish costume. Then the burning occurs, and then there is a large show type thing, with lots of acrobats, dancing and performing.  Here are some pictures I took of the Royal Mile at night waiting for the parade:

Me with my crazy getup (thanks aunt Lisa!)

St. Giles Cathedral, still havent gotten to see it up close yet, but its gorgeous

The view up to the castle, waiting for the parade to start

A little more about the history of the festival (source: wikipedia)

It has some elements of a festival of the dead. The Gaels believed that the border between this world and the otherworld became thin on Samhain; because so many animals and plants were dying, it thus allowed the dead to reach back through the veil that separated them from the living. Bonfires played a large part in the festivities. People and their livestock would often walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames.

The Gaelic custom of wearing costumes and masks, was an attempt to copy the spirits or placate them. In Scotland the dead were impersonated by young men with masked, veiled or blackened faces, dressed in white.  Samhnag — turnips which were hollowed-out and carved with faces to make lanterns — were also used to ward off harmful spirits.

The Gaelic festival became associated with the Catholic All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, and has hugely influenced the secular customs now connected with Halloween, a name first attested in the 16th century as a Scottish shortening of the fuller All-Hallows-Even. Samhain continues to be celebrated as a religious festival by some neopagans.

And here are some pics of the parade, along with a video of it at the end 🙂 Enjoy




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