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Issue 69 - Festival Time

Scotland Magazine Issue 69
June 2013


This article is 5 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Festival Time

Finally as I sit here it looks like we might have a run of decent weather. The spring has been one of the coldest on record. Everything seemed to be in stasis: plants, animals and in fact us humans.

But hopefully that is behind us now. The sap is rising and the trees are almost in full foliage. Spring flowers, that valiantly struggled against repeated frosts, scything winds and oceans of rain, are giving way to the summer blooms.

I think in our modern world it is all too easy to lose touch with the seasons; well apart from the extreme poles of hot summer and cold winter, there is a glorious variance in between, subtle shifts between light and dark, heat and cold.

Perhaps these days, with our technology, fast moving media and constant noise, the old festivals play less of a part in our lives.

But just on that point, have you ever noticed how we are continually being bombarded with noise. Music in shops, traffic, the constant hum of technology, factories, even streetlights; it seems like there is no escape. I remember one walk I went on up Ben Nevis. Halfway up there was a little loch, so I lay down and just listened. Despite the voices of fellow walkers, it was possible just to listen to the wind through the heather and gorse, the bees lazily floating around.

Back to my point. Festivals; markers of the turning points in the year. There is a profound value in marking time's progress. It roots us to the rock we all cling onto.

We have just had May Day celebrations. May Day is all about celebrating springtime fertility (of the soil, livestock, and people) and revelry with village fêtes and community gatherings.

A fun festival but not my favourite. I have always been a big fan of Autumn. The riot of colour after the various shades of green. When I was younger this was the time of the harvest festival: the church would be decorated with corn and wheat sheaves adding to the sense that the year was turning.

So I would like to propose a revival of the festival traditions for the modern age and switch off the electronics once in a while. Let’s light candles, stoke fires and relish the prospect of cold winters and hopefully warm and lovely summers.

We should celebrate May poles and May queens, conker championships, roast dinners with local lamb and beef and revive those spring and harvest ceremonies from our childhoods.