Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the world's largest Hogmanay (New Year) celebration in Edinburgh (previously here) has moved to an online platform. These 3D drone light shows accompanied by David Tennant and others reading a new poem by Jackie Kay are stunning. The combination of the scenery, the words, the music, the lights and the images and symbols they form, and the inflection of the readers made me tear up...
FARE WELL, PART ONE
Edinburgh's Hogmanay 2020 - Online Celebration
Fare Well is a new poem by Jackie Kay that bids farewell to 2020 and wishes a better year for 2021
Narrated by David Tennant and others, Fare Well underscores the UK’s largest swarm drone display, recorded in the Scottish Highlands and cut to spectacular views above Edinburgh.
Part One of Fare Well looks at the year gone by – the funerals and weddings cancelled, the griefs and despairs which have been collective, with a feeling that the world has become a village.
FARE WELL, PART TWO
Whilst part one of Fare Well looked at the year that’s gone by, the second phase turns to look at us today and to give thanks for the many acts of community and kindness displayed by so many across the country. Jackie Kay’s narrative takes an optimistic tone, reflecting on the good of the human spirit and the sense of togetherness that has emerged from 2020.
Part two of Fare Well includes images of “WE” in the skies above Edinburgh – a message from Scotland of universality and commonality – with “WE” translated into many languages including French, Gaelic, Arabic, Greek, Korean, Mandarin and Thai.
FARE WELL, PART THREE The final instalment of Fare Well and a message of hope for 2021!
Whilst part one and two of Fare Well looked at the year gone by, the finale turns from the celebration of Hogmanay, the end of the year, and looks with optimism to the future. Taking inspiration from a poem by Robert Burns (Sketch New Year's Day), Scots Makar Jackie Kay echoes Burns’ question about the night of Hogmanay and asks what did ‘yesternight deliver’ and like Burns, finds that there is hope, and that it is found in nature. Burns finds hope in looking up at the skies and says that something in us never dies.
Hogmanay is the Scottish New Year's celebration that takes place over the course of several days. While the festival and its customs date back to pagan celebrations of winter solstice, the word Hogmanay itself is harder to trace. Scholars have guessed that the word possibly comes from the French, Norse, or Goidelic languages.
The largest event held in Edinburgh usually kicks off with a torchlight procession. An enormous crowd of celebrants accompanied by pipers and drummers, fire, and fanfare in a river of light wind through the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town culminating in the historic Holyrood Park.
Every year, the torchbearers make a different shape when seen from the air...
December 31st is Auld Year's Eve. Street parties, outdoor concerts, indoor concerts, and The Ceilidh Under the Castle (a concert of traditional pipe and drum Scottish music held at the base of Edinburgh Castle) all culminate in an overwhelming firework display at the stroke of midnight.
Due to the ongoing global pandemic, the street parties, concerts, dances, and gatherings of Edinburgh's Hogmanay Festival will clearly not take place this year, but organizers have instead come up with a unique, multi-night presentation. Here are the details from the official site:
"As Christmas draws closer and ‘bubble’ celebrations with friends and family start to feel a reality, the next occasion to plan for is New Year. This is a welcome chance to wave off 2020 and hope for an altogether better 2021. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is renowned internationally as one of the leading new year celebrations in the world and this year’s Hogmanay will continue to cement this reputation. With no live events planned this year, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will, for the first time in its history, move to an entirely online celebration with a series of spectacular ‘moments’ to be watched from home.
Produced by Underbelly on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council, the free online series of shows promise never seen before, visually-spectacular moments every evening from 28th through to the 1st January. The stay-at-home event series will be FREE to watch and streamed via www.edinburghshogmanay.com so Hogmanay fans all over the world can tune in from the comfort and safety of their homes.
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has wowed, surprised and delighted hundreds of thousands of people over the years and 2020 promises to continue that tradition, with a series of awe-inspiring moments using multisensory creativity and pioneering technology crafted, hosted and narrated by a powerhouse of incredible Scottish talent. The line-up includes internationally renowned actor and famed Doctor Who, David Tennant, award winning poet and Scottish Makar (Scotland’s Poet Laureate), Jackie Kay, Celtic fusion band, Niteworks and Scottish actors Lorne MacFayden and Siobhan Redmond.
Further details will be revealed in the coming weeks as we countdown to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay kick-off on 28th December."
And we hope by the end of 2021, these other charming, in-person New Year's customs will be able to be observed in Scotland. "First footing" is the idea that the first person to cross the threshold of your home is a harbinger of good luck. Starting immediately after midnight, people call on friends, going from house to house for much of the night and even into the morning and next day, with over half the population of Scotland observing the practice of "first-footing." It is good luck for the "first-footer" to be a tall, dark male. Traditionally, this male would bring gifts of a coin (symbolizing prosperity), bread/ black bun fruitcake (symbolizing food), salt (flavor), coal (warmth), or a drink (good cheer). These days, a "first-footer" usually just brings the whiskey!
January 1st is Ne'erday, a contraction of New Year's Day. The celebrating and "first-footing" continue, the annual Loony Dook takes place in the Firth of Forth (a wacky costumed cold plunge for charity), and many Scots still observe the day with a special dinner of steak pie.
"Oh, By The Way" is my digital scrap book of things I like, things I would share with a close friend and say: “Oh, by the way, do you know of this artist/ clothing or interior designer/ model/ singer/ actor/ gorgeous man… or, have you seen this video/ photo/ film... or heard (or do you remember) this song/ band... or, read this book/ poem/ inspiring quote... or, visited this place/ museum/ restaurant/ famous building... or, have you heard of this amazing new scientific discovery?”
I am dedicated to posting the positive, the fascinating, the beautiful, the interesting, the moving, and the inspiring and uplifting. Sometimes I post cultural as well as personal observations, milestones, and remembrances. And just like life, all of these things may often have a bit of melancholy or even sadness in them, which is what makes our time here so lovely and bittersweet and precious.
Some of the photos, art, poetry, and prose are my own original work, credited with my initials, JEF. When it isn't, I always try to post links to the original source material, but often I find photos on the web that are not linked or other material that is not sourced. In these instances, I post them without malice since it is assumed that such things, by being globally posted on something as uncontrollable as the internet to begin with, are in the public domain. If you identify the source of an image that is not linked, please politely let me know (without accusing me of theft) and I will be happy to provide a link. If you are the owner of an image and would prefer it be removed, I am happy to do that as well.
I hope to inspire and entertain my readers with things that inspire and entertain me. There is a startling amount of beauty and creativity in the world and it enriches us all to participate in it.
All-time Favorite Films
2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick)
After Hours (Hysterical, hair-raising ride through NYC at night)
American Beauty (Alan Ball)
Baraka (Stunning, transcending—the "spiritus mundi" on film)
Belle et Bete (Cocteau)
Big Sleep, The (The epitome of film noir)
Bringing Up Baby (Hepburn & Grant—the epitome of screwball comedy)
Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, The (Greenaway)
Crash (Cronenberg—DIFFICULT subject, not for everyone)
Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg—ultimate modern gothic horror)
Drowning By Numbers (Greenaway)
Edward II (Derek Jarman)
Erendira (From magic realist Marquez’ brilliant short story)
Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick's last film)
Fearless (Jeff Bridges—life and death)
Funny Bones (Leslie Caron, Jerry Lewis, and the brilliant Lee Evans)
Holiday (Hepburn & Grant)
Howard’s End (The ultimate statement of the unfairness of class systems)
Ice Storm, The
Inland Empire (David Lynch)
Interiors (Woody Allen's ode to Bergman)
Jetée, La (French short that inspired Gilliam's "12 Monkeys")
Jules et Jim (Truffaut)
Juliet of the Spirits (My favorite Fellini)
Kwaidan (4 Japanese ghost stories)
L’Age d’Or (Bunuel)
Last Temptation of Christ, The (Jesus was a shaman)
Latcho Drom (Beautiful visual documentary of Romany culture around the world)
Lion in Winter, The (Hepburn!—Like “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” but circa 1183)
Living End, The
Lost Highway (David Lynch)
Maurice (Boy gets boy, they live happily ever after!!!!!)
Men Don’t Leave (Jessica Lange’s gorgeous delicate performance)
Nights of Cabiria, The (Fellini)
Orlando (Tilda Swinton’s pristine performance and Sally Potter’s ravishing visuals)
Orphée (HEAVEN! Cocteau was a genius)
Pennies From Heaven (Steve Martin/ stunning Edward Hopper sets!)
Philadelphia Story, The (Hepburn)
Pillow Book, The (Greenaway)
Planet of the Apes (1968...NOT 2001!)
Postman Always Rings Twice, The (Nicholson/Lange--WOW)
Prospero’s Books (Greenaway)
Rebel Without a Cause ("I got the bullets!")
Shining, The (Kubrick)
Thin Red Line, The (Terrence Malick--existential poetry cleverly disguised as a war film)
Titus (Julie Taymor does Shakespeare)
Tommy (Brilliant, audacious Ken Russell film of The Who's rock opera)
Tree Of Life, The (Terrence Malick masterpiece)
Un Chien Andalou (Bunuel and Dali, need more be said?)
Wall,The (Pink Floyd)
Wings of Desire (All the feelings of the entire human race in one film)
Woman of the Year (Dated yet charming Hepburn vehicle)
Zabriskie Point (Empty, open, classic early 70s)
ZOO, A Zed and Two Noughts (Greenaway)
The Sounds My Soul Makes: Music
Dead Can Dance
Everything But the Girl
Gang of Four
Nine Inch Nails
Rickie Lee Jones
Tears For Fears
This Mortal Coil
Important Books That Have Influenced Me
100 Years of Solitude—Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Doorway (for young people but worth it)—Madeleine L’Engle