Up Helly Aa

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Guizers at an Up Helly Aa festival in Uyeasound, Shetland Islands, February 2010

Up Helly Aa (ˌʌp_hɛli_ˈɑː literally "Up Haily [Day] Aa") is a series o twal fire festivals at tak plaess yearly fae January tae Mairch in Shetland, Scotland, tae mark da end o da yule saison. Ivry festival haes a torchlit procession by squads o folk in costume (kent as guizers) dat culminates in da burnin o a Vikin gelley. Da biggest festival held in Lerwick, Shetland's capital, haes a procession wi up tae a thoosand guizers wha march troo da streets o Lerwick on da haedmist Tuesday o January.[1][2] Da idder rural festivals (kent as da 'country' Up Helly Aas)[3] see peerier quantities o participants wi dir peerier populations.

Fae it began, weemin an lasses ir been excluded fae takkin pairt as guizers in da Lerwick festival. Dis is become a controversial issue an is da subject o ongoin debaet in Shetland.[4]

Origins[eedit | eedit soorce]

Da current Lerwick celebration cam fae da aalder yule tradeetion o tar barrellin dat took plaess at Christmas an Newardy as weel as Up Helly Aa. Squads o young meyn wid drag barrels of burnin tar troo da toon on sledges, makkin a onkerry. Concern ower public safety an levels o drunkenness led tae changes idda celebrations, an saa dem takkin inspiration fae da islands' Vikin history. Efter da abolition o tar barrellin aroond 1874–1880, permission wis eventually gotten fir torch processions. Da foremist yule torch procession tök plaess in 1876. Da foremist torch celebration on Up Helly Aa Day took plaess in 1881. Da followin year da torchlit procession wis improved and institutionalised troo a request fae a Lerwick civic boady tae hadd anidder Up Helly Aa torch procession fir da veesit o Alfred, Duke o Edinburgh.[5][6] Da foremist galley wis biggit an brunt in 1889.[7] Da honorary role o da 'Jarl' wis brocht intae da festival idda aerly twintiet century. Whaar mony sources claim ancient origins, da festival, an mony lik it, cam fae Victorian romanticism. Da naem itsel comes fae Upholiday, da Lowland Scots wird fir Twalt Day, an wis brocht by dem tae Shetland idda 19t century.

Da modern event[eedit | eedit soorce]

Da event taks plaess aa ower Shetland and eenoo is celebrated in eelivin locations – Scallowa, Lerwick, Nestin an Girlsta, Uyeasoond, Nortmavine, Bressa, Cullava, Norrik, Waas, da Sooth Mainland an Deltin.[8] Der a head guizer wha is caaed da "Guizer Jarl"[3] (pron. "yarl"). Der a committee dat a body most be pairt o fir 15 year afore dey can be a jarl, an ony ee body is elected tae da committee ivry year.[9] Da procession culminates in da torches bein flung intil a replica Vikin longship or gelley. Efter da procession, da squads veesit local haals (includin sköls, sports centres an hottels), whaar private pairties ir held. At ivry haal, da squads perform dir acts, dat can be a send-up o a popular TV programme or film, a skit on local events or folk, or singin an dancin.[3]

Some pairts o da festival ir been changed for da modern day; for example, as o 2020 da use o blackfaess is been banned at festivals in Shetland.[2]

Meanin[eedit | eedit soorce]

According tae John Jamieson's Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language (1818),[10] up is ösed in da sense o somethin bein at an end, and comes fae da Aald Norse wird uppi dat is still ösed in Faroese and Icelandic, whaaras helly refers tae a holy day or festival. Da Scottish National Dictionary defines helly, maist likly derived fae da Aald Norse helgr (helgi idda dative and accusative case, meanin a holiday or festival), as a series o festive days, espeecially da period whaar Christmas festivities ir held fae 25th Dec. tae 5th Jan.",[11] while aa micht represent a', meanin "all".

Lerwick Up Helly Aa gallery[eedit | eedit soorce]

See as weel[eedit | eedit soorce]

References[eedit | eedit soorce]

  1. "Up Helly Aa". Up Helly Aa official website. Up Helly Aa Committee. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  2. a b Bennett, Daniel (10 Juin 2020). "Blackface 'will not be tolerated' at Up Helly Aa festival". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  3. a b c "Lerwick Up Helly Aa". Shetland.org (in Inglis). Retrieved 21 December 2020.
  4. "The strange island tradition firing up a gender row". bbc.com. 22 Mairch 2019. Retrieved 25 Mairch 2019.
  5. Callum G. Brown, Up-helly-aa: Custom, Culture, and Community in Shetland (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998), ISBN 1901341070, pp. 126-139.
  6. "It cost £4,940 15/6d to build, now monument to civic splendour is 125". The Shetland Times. 25 Julie 2008. Retrieved 26 December 2008.
  7. "The Galley". Up Helly Aa. NB Communication. Archived frae the original on 17 October 2018. Retrieved 29 Januar 2014.
  8. "Fire Festival Events". Shetland.org (in Inglis). Retrieved 24 Februar 2020.
  9. "Up Helly Aa". Scranalogue. 21 Januar 2020. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
  10. Jamieson, John (1818), "upp-helli-a'", An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language; in which the Words are Explained in their Different Senses, Authorized by the Names of the Writers by whom they are Used, or the Titles of the Works in which they Occur, and Deduced from their Originals, Edinburgh: Printed for A. Constable and Co., and A. Jameson by Abernethy & Walker, OCLC 4363471.
  11. William Grant, ed. (1931–1975), "helly", The Scottish National Dictionary, Designed Partly on Regional Lines and Partly on Historical Principles, and Containing All the Scottish Words Known to be in Use or to have been in Use since c. 1700, 5, Edinburgh: Scottish National Dictionary Association, OCLC 780478, 10 vols., as reproduced in Victor Skretkowicz; Susan Rennie; William A. Craigie, eds. (2004), Dictionary of the Scots Language = Dictionar o the Scots Leid, Dundee: University of Dundee, OCLC 57069714.

External links[eedit | eedit soorce]