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Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 2005-11 > 1132703076

From: "Edward Andrews" <>
Subject: RE: [Sc-Ir] Scotch-Irish Christmas Traditions
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 23:44:36 -0000
In-Reply-To: <000801c5ef88$5729b8f0$030ba8c0@DadXP>

Quite frankly, I've never experienced it.
What seems to be a Scandinavian model of Candles which may be connected with
St Lucia is now fairly popular, though I always have a sneaking suspicion
that with its five candle shape that it has a relationship with the Menorah
of Chanukah.
Remember that I can only write about the Lowlands. What they may do in
Barra or South Uist is a different thing. I certainly have never been given
a candle by a shop keeper and I've been around Christmas in Scotland since
1968 where it was still in some places a working day - it was just that the
family I was with, having English connections celebrated Christmas.
Most of these light festivals are much more ancient than Christianity. The
ritual which someone described of fire balls has an exact parallel with the
swinging of Fire Balls at Stonehaven.
The Calvie of Burghead is burnt on Old New Years Day.
These light festivals are links with a pre Christian past. In some
communities they have been tacked on to Christmas. In others they have been
retained in their original position.
Now if you first foot part of what you bring is a piece of coal, which is
the same line of thought as the Candle for light.
However this seems to have rather strayed from S-I Christmas traditions. I
think that we have established that there aren't really, however that there
are a lot of Scottish fire traditions which are celebrated in the darkness
of winter. Remember that the South of Scotland is 54 North and the early
dark in Fort William at about 57 N on a December or January afternoon at
about 15.00 especially if it is raining is awesome.
Ulster is slightly to the South and the winters are not a severe.
Hope that this helps
Edward Andrews

-----Original Message-----
From: Lee Ramsey [mailto:]
Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2005 5:15 PM
Subject: [Sc-Ir] Scotch-Irish Christmas Traditions

This article extraction is only one of many found by googling Christmas
Folkways. I have added a historical reference at the close of the article
from David Hackett Fischer's "Albion's Seed." Lee Ramsey
December, 1993


by Anne Kimzey

A year ago Alabama Folkways featured a column by Doug Purcell describing the
tradition of fireballing -- the practice of lighting kerosene-soaked balls
of yarn or tightly-wound rags and tossing the fiery objects outdoors at
night as a way of celebrating Christmas or the New Year... the practice once
occurred in the Alabama counties of Henry, Houston, Dale and Russell and in
Hancock County, Georgia. Our respondents indicated that fireballs have also
flown through the skies of Chambers, Tallapoosa, Elmore, Bullock, Pike,
Crenshaw, Geneva, Covington, Monroe, Dallas, Marengo, Perry, Bibb and Blount
counties. While most respondents told of fireball memories dating back to
the 1920s and '30s, Jeanette Gibson of Goodway in Monroe County, Alabama
wrote that her family and friends began to gather on Christmas Eve a few
years ago for "refreshments, fireworks, and fireballs," when she found it
difficult to make the trip back to Blakely, Georgia, where her father's side
of the family ha!
s thrown fireballs at Christmas for generations.

This Christmas folkways is most likely the extention of the "Old Christmas"
from the boarder lands of Scotland and Northern England. "Old Christmas"
was originally celebrated on January 6th. with a feast, bonfires, gunplay
and fireworks. This custom continued in the Appalachia and the highlands of
North Carolina as well. The January 6th date was traditional believed to be
the real Christmas as the birth day of Christ.

Lee Ramsey

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