Up-helly-aa: custom, culture, and community in Shetland
Up-Helly-AA is Europe's largest and most spectacular winter fire festival. In the biting Arctic wind on the last Tuesday of every January, a "Guizer Jarl" leads one thousand men in guising costumes with flaming torches through the streets of Lerwick, the capital of the Shetland Isles, accompanying a Viking galley to its ceremonial burning. This is the first full study of the historical origins and contemporary significance of Up-Helly-AA. It traces the formation of Yule celebrations in the 1840s into the civic ritual constructed in the 1880s and 1890s by Shetland nationalists, folk revivalists, labour activists, teetotallers and municipal authorities. In the twentieth century, the renamed "Up-Helly-AA" became the principal community event in the Shetlands, making complex statements about gender, class, "nation," rebelliousness and respectability.
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The festival of Uphellyaa in the 1990s
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29 January activities barrel became boat boys Bressay Brian Smith Britain British burgh C. G. Brown calendar customs celebration Christmas Church of Scotland civic Commercial Street Common Riding costumes dancing decades developed dressed drinking E. P. Thompson early economic Edinburgh eighteenth century elites evangelical event fishing flaming tar-barrels folklorists galley Guizer Jarl guizing outfits halls helly-aa heritage historians houses Ibid identity Irvine Jarl's squad John O'Groat Journal kirk session krate large number late Lerwegian Lerwick Lerwick Up-helly-aa London Market Cross McNeill merchants mischief misrule modern moral night nineteenth century Norn Norn language Norse imagery occasion organised Orkney parade parish past police procession Rechabites ritual rural Shetland satirical Saxby Scots Scottish seventeenth Shet Shetland Museum smuggling social socialist society symbols teetotal theme tion torches town council town's tradition twentieth century Up-helly Up-helly-aa Up-helly-aa Committee Up-helly-aa festival Viking whilst wick women Year's Day Yule Yuletide