Stonehaven Fireball Ceremony (31 December 2007). © Stonehaven Fireball Association
Every New Year at midnight, Hogmanay celebrations in Stonehaven feature a large, fireball-swinging procession up and down the High Street. At the end (00.25) the flaming orbs are thrown into the sea at the harbour, followed by a five-minute fireworks display.
With 45 local marchers all whirling balls of fire of assorted weights and sizes above their heads on the end of long wire handles, the parade makes an impressive and faintly terrifying spectacle.
While its origins are lost in the mists of time, the ceremony was already going in 1853. It is one of only a few fire festivals/ceremonies left in Scotland and could have started as a purification rite, warding off evil spirits, or as a sun-worshiping tradition, with the fireball representing the sun. Organisers now expect 10-12,000 spectators.
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