Burning away the winter blues

26 Mar
This wasn’t what I was going to post about, but I thought I would mention that I went to a fun event  on Saturday night called "Burning Away the Winter Blues".  Marusia called me on Friday and asked if I wanted to go; we haven’t had a chance to visit in a month, so I quickly agreed, knowing that whatever we ended up doing, it would be fun to do it with her.

The event was a celebration of the spring equinox (which was technically on the 21st, but hey, that was a work night).  A willow effigy of Old Man Winter was constructed several weeks ago.  The whole community actually got to participate, as it was on display at the cultural festival during the Canada Winter Games.  You could go and add your own willow branch to the effigy (created by a a local artist) and write down you winter blues on a scrap of paper.  On Saturday night Old Man Winter and everyone’s winter blues got burned in an enormous bonfire after being chased down by the dragon of spring.

The whole thing is a pagan ritual and there were a number of Wiccans in attendance, but most people were there just for the fun of it.  (It seems that quite a few Whitehorsians are tired of winter.)  Marusia and I even got to be torch-bearers for the procession (and subsequently ended up on the front page of the Whitehorse Daily Star, although the colour shift on the picture was such that I didn’t even recognize myself until I had looked at the picture a few times) but we were delinquent ones because there wasn’t enough kerosene to go around.  We got our torches lit at the gathering place, but by the time the procession started, we were carrying sticks with sooty black fabric on the ends.  Fortunately, there were lots of other torches that were actually lit.

The path for the procession wound through part of Robert Service campground, and was lit with tea lights on either side.  It really was quite a beautiful sight!  The bonfire in which Old Man Winter perished was the biggest bonfire I’ve ever seen; I’m sure it was at least 50 feet long.  Nobody could stand closer than about 15 feet from it, and the poor folk who were bearing up the effigy were all getting pretty darned hot!  The effigy itself was gorgeous: an enormous bearded head, with stripped willow rings in his ears, two enormous hands, separately constructed, and attached to the head by strips of white cloth.  It took four people to manipulate him, and he made quite a blaze when he went into the fire.

We stayed out until just after 10 (although I’m sure many people were there much, much later) and then headed out to see if we could find a coffee place in which to sit down.  Alas, Whitehorse has a dearth of late-night hangouts (unless you want to be at a bar…) and so we headed home.  But it was fun while it lasted!

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