Up Helly Aa, a traditional Viking festival

There are hundreds of nations around the world, so the festivals they celebrated can also be counted by hundreds while many of them are related to the fire. Similarly, the Vikings had their own traditional festival regarding fire, too.

Its modern version is called the Up Helly Aa. It’s celebrated on the last Tuesday of January, on the Shetland Islands, Scotland. On that day, dressing in traditional Viking costumes, thousands of people will parade down the streets with torches, and pray for peace and happiness.

Up Helly Aa

What’s more interesting is, apart from Vikings, there are also some people disguised as Stormtroopers in the Star Wars films. The highlight of that day is the section where a purely hand-made wooden Viking ship will be lit and burned to the skeleton, it looks really shocking in the dark. The Up Helly Aa originates from the Viking fire festival dated back to 1200 years ago.

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Up Helly Aa

At that time, the Vikings from up north were all valiant warriors sailing around the Europe and fighting. Every time they won victory, a fire ceremony was held in memory of the fallen Vikings and for God’s blessing.

Viking
Viking

In the Viking culture, fire and burning have following religious or symbolic meanings: Firstly, just like water, fire stands for cleanness and sterilization.Secondly, things like offerings can be sent to the spiritual world by burning them.In this sense, the Up Helly Aa is a homage to the Viking history.

Viking ceremony

 

Viking Dragon Boat
Viking Dragon Boat

 

Viking enthusiasts

 

Viking fans

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