I can't believe it has already been a week since I was in Edinburgh, it doesn't feel like it!
SO we saw this amazing procession/performance/celebration in a square right off of the Royal Mile (a mile of street that starts at the castle and descends down the hill into the city). Samhuinn is an ancient Celtic holiday that celebrates the changing of seasons from summer to winter. There was the Winter King and his court who would soon defeat the Summer King and his court. Here's some backstory about the festival.
The performers were all in costume, naturally, but the style of costume is what mattered to me. Amongst all the face paint, all of the masks, all of the fabric, nothing looked modern. There wasn't a piece of plastic or polyester in sight. As I stood there, watching the Red Men dance or the Beasties play their drums, I couldn't help but imagine that had I been transported back in time hundreds of years, I would be witnessing the exact same procession. The primal beat of the drums and the screeching and yelping of the people dressed as wolves (part of the Winter King's court) called to me somehow...I think it really drove home the point that this is a land of my ancestors, and that hundreds of years ago, my ancestors were probably celebrating in the same manner.
I think, as a generic white American, it's hard to think of myself as having 'ancestors' of a specific culture, but I'm only third-generation, and they had to come from somewhere! My mother's mom was born in Scotland, her paternal grandparents were Jews from Eastern Europe (Belarus perhaps, all we know is that they immigrated from Minsk), my dad's maternal grandparents were from Sweden and his paternal grandparents were from Ireland (so he's lucky enough to be eligible for Irish citizenship). Back to the point, I think that watching this festival (and spending the day searching for MacGregor paraphernalia) made me realize 'yes, Amy, you do have ancestors and they weren't just nameless/faceless/culture-less white people. They were Celts, Vikings, and Hebrews who for hundreds of years were involved in their own culture and who's descendants decided to move to a country where the culture was just beginning to become established. But they had their own set of festivals, religion, dress, etc...
Back to Samhuinn: This shit was unbelievable. And there's one in the spring, called Bealltainn that I hope to go to as well. Here are some photos: video trailer for Bealltainn , photos, more photos .