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From: 2013.12.30 To: 2013.12.31
It's straight out of a gothic film: the Perthshire village of Comrie welcomes in the New Year with a torch-lit parade around the village periphery and then the enormous firing sticks are heaved into the nearby river during the annual Flambeaux Procession. The event is considered a pagan tradition that predates Christianity in the region. The tradition includes carrying eight fire-lit torches, flambeaux, through the village and locals go to great length to ensure that the proper procedure is followed in order to get the sticks prepared for the New Year welcome. The torches are large, generally around four meters in length and made from fell birch tree wood that was gathered in the autumn. To ignite them properly, the torches were first wrapped in Hessian bags then soaked in paraffin, a type of petrol-based candle wax. On New Year's Eve they are taken out and laid in an old churchyard in the center of town. Then young men come to parade them through the streets to light a bonfire in the city center before they are chucked flaming into the River Earn. Whether or not the ritual still serves to scare away any evil spirits with the bright and fiery flames is up in the air, though a bright, clear New Year's Even makes this tradition a bright, interesting and not terribly scary adventure in local lore.