Fireballs Review from a New Zealander
I had travelled halfway around the world to watch the fireballs in Stonehaven.
A visit from my cousins to New Zealand almost three years ago spun tales of extraordinary men swinging huge balls of fire above their heads up and down the main street on New Years Eve. This, I decided, I had to see.
I arrived in Stonehaven on December 30th 2005 after circumnavigating the globe by plane, a 10 hour bus trip to Edinburgh and a two hour train ride to Stonehaven. I'd come from a southern summer, and being plunged straight into a northern winter with sunsets a little after 3.30pm was a shock to the system.
I liked the cold of Scotland. Frosty clear nights and cold but beautiful days, and it seemed I'd had the weather I ordered. New Years Eve drizzled a little but by 5 pm it had cleared and the stars popped out to view the celebrations. I didn't know much about Scottish New Year tradition, even though my ancestors are all Scottish.
This was my first time in Scotland, in fact my first time in the Northern Hemisphere.
We found a place in the crowd near where the fireballs were lit, before they were carried down the street and tossed in the harbour. After, the pipe bands and a little after midnight the balls were lit and the procession began.
It was cold standing still for an hour or more, but as soon as the swingers went past the temperature shot up substantially and I could feel my hair and clothing start to crinkle. I saw at least thirty swingers. There could have been more.
You tend to loose count in all the excitement. A lot of them wore kilts, I was pleased to see, and others wore overalls, which was probably a good idea. I was however surprised to see women swinging as well. I guess those things are quite weighty. Through the cheers and claps, and a bunch of very noisy Australians sitting opposite us, the procession of swingers followed one another up the main street until they were lost from vision.
Then as the cheers grew loud again they came back down, and our vantage point was a great place to see the huge balls tossed into the harbour. One or two gave off a large spit and bang before the cold waters of the North Sea extinguished them.
One man, slightly toward the end of the procession had grown tired swinging his fireball, and now dragged it on the ground behind him, the precarious sparks vanishing straight up his kilt.
I did question a few people about the fireballs in the harbour, but was assured that they do fish them out again. After the fireballs were over we viewed the spectacular fireworks display from the hilltop. Again we were in a peak position.
After all was concluded, and the crowd dispersed it was Happy New Year all round, a few drams of whiskey then off to Dexter's for the rest of the night.
Luckily my cousin had slipped a small parcel of Tablet into my pocket, for I did end up first footing in the wee hours.
A great New Year was had by all and I think I'd rank Stonehaven at the top of the list of amazing places to see in another year.
Our thanks to Ellen for sending us this article and the kind comments on Stonehaven