Thursday, 5 November 2009

'Penny for me pop...'

Bonfire night in Orkney is linked to the old Hallowmass, one of the four main pagan festivals including Yule, Beltane and Midsummer.

Hallowmass signalled the end of harvesting when malevolent forces roamed the land and darkness reigned once more.

In Stromness, the children of the town traditionally spend the 5th of November parading, not with a guy, but carved turnips. The grotesque heads can be ghouls, aliens, animals or even topical figures or celebrities. The common cry is 'penny for me pop?, 'pop' being 'Pope'; a reminder of the days when effigies of the Pope were burned on a bonfire!

Photograph copyright Keith Allardyce, taken from the wonderful book on Stromness 'Sea Haven' by Bryce Wilson and with a foreword by George Mackay Brown.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Are you delighted by what you have just read? Are you revulsed and appalled? Do let us know, we'd love to hear from you.