Thursday, January 31, 2008

Up Helly Aa

(No Helly, this has nothing to do with you...)

Fire, apparently is the key ingredient. Throw in some vikings, swords, booze and a burning long boat, and you, my friend, have yourself one hell of a festival. A fucking VIKING festival, alive and well in the 21st century.

Does "Up-Helly-Aa" celebrate culture? Sure! Does it create a mid-winter vacation destination in the Shetland islands?? You bet!

Dose it kick ass to to dress in furs, get drunk and burn shit up?? HELL YA!!

And that, it appears, is the point.

Now certainly, the festival is a celebration of an ancient and influential culture. But even if it were nothing more than a collective excuse to get rowdy, that would be OK too. Bon Fire carousing is an inherent part of the human experience, one that is not exercised nearly often enough in these over-sanitzed over-safe times.

But folks like fire. They need it. That is why good clean law-abiding folk in Oregon wander to Washingtion in July to buy rediculously-illegal fireworks to take home. It is why the ancient Druids had Beltane. It is why 40,000 people brave the Nevada desert every Summer for Burningman.

There are too many rules, too many customs, too many manners. There are too many restrictions, obligations and limitations. Sometimes, sometimes, we just need to wear primitive clothes (or maybe no clothes at all) and drink, smoke or eat whatever it takes to free ourselves from our inhibitions and anxieties. Sometimes we need to swing our blood-stained viking war hammer at the moon, or stomp around the bon fire with stag antlers on our heads. Sometimes we need to feel the searing heat and stand too close to the all-consuming combustion. Sometimes, we just need to let it go, let it all go.

(Thanks to Fred for cluing me into the Up-Helly-Aa festival...)


  1. Oosje7:30 AM

    I did ask you to come to Burning Man with me one year....remember? (I guess it's not something to do with your mother-in-law...)The fire there is beyond great, as are the fire dancers. I want to be one when I grow up. Everyone definitely benefits from the ancient ritual of "giving oneself up to the fire".

  2. LMAO!! You sure do know how to make a person do a double-take first thing in the morning, opening up her feeder :-P

    And btw, since when do men need a formal excuse to get in touch with their inner, uncultured brutish selves?

  3. I hear John McCain is a Viking.

  4. McCain has a lot of neck flesh.

    And oosje, just as soon as you feel up to going, I'll go.

  5. I swear he is hiding a small asian village in his left jowels. Its almost as distrating as the thing on the side of your nose.

  6. The thing on the side of my nose, which was removed over 15 years ago, has strangely come up in conversation several times in the past week...

  7. Asia Boy2:47 PM

    It is hot in Manila. In a way, this whole country is on fire. Well, more of a burning itch. But close enough.

  8. A long silence since Thursday. I sense another writer's block.


Be compelling.

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