Saturday, 28 March 2009
Burning away the winter blues.
"I've always wanted to be part of a torch-bearing mob" - Seamus Kerlin, March 21st 2009.
For the past few years, Whitehorse has held a festival on March 21st (the first day of spring) called Burning away the winter blues. This is a pagan festival, whereby an effigy of Old Man Winter is burnt on a huge bonfire whilst Yukonites dance around with drums, chanting "BURN, WINTER, BURN!". Apparently, this year is particularly significant since the Yukon has had more snow during this winter than during any other since records began. I guess if you have six months of very cold temperatures, the dancing and chanting can seem like a good idea by March. To keep warm if nothing else.
Anyway, we read about this festival before we went to Whitehorse, and thought it'd be fun, and very much something we'd never have a chance to do again. So, last Saturday night, we headed to the waterfront where the event was due again. The plan was for everyone to meet there, and parade to a campground a mile or two away, carrying this effigy (plus a large dragon? I'm not sure of the significance of that part, but still). Almost straight after we got there, the organiser approached us and asked us to carry the torches at the front of the processions. Not flashlights either....torches! With real fire! Why would they trust us with that kind of responsibility? We're not even Canadian!
So, we carried the torches, and it was a little scary (as I am fearful of fire). And we walked to the campground, where the dancing and chanting and burning occurred, and we all had to write down our winter blues, and burn them in the fire. It was very cool, in a weird, pagan way.
Posted by Katy at 16:29