Different Strokes for Different Folks

Allendale Baal (Barrel) fire ready for the off at midnight on New Years Eve.

Allendale Town. New Years Eve. Men with lighted tar barrels on their heads parade through the streets in the Tar Barrel Ceremony. Yes, the barrels are on fire! The the Baal fire in the center of town, where cars usually park, is lit. (Melting the tarmac perhaps?!!) People come from far and wide to watch. Then they go home to bed.

We on the other hand have no bonfire, or tar barrels. Sit and meditate from about 7.30 pm. Before midnight everybody may offer incense and make three bows of gratitude for the past year. Have a sedate ceremony at midnight. Afterwords everybody is given an apple or cake, or similar. Make three more bows asking for help in the coming year. We then strike the big bell a total of 108 times and go to our beds.

New Years Eve can bring on the melancholy (defined as thoughtful sadness) like nobodies business. Years ago that was the case for me. Now? By the time 1.00 am comes I’m just tired.

Where ever you are to welcome in the New Year, take care.

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8 thoughts on “Different Strokes for Different Folks”

  1. I love the idea of a tar barrel parade. It seems so medieval. Best New Years wishes for you and the others at the Abbey. I hope to have a peaceful, quiet evening like your description some day. Every year brings me a little closer.

  2. A rum lot in Allendale – long may they prosper! Just arrived back in Singapore this morning, so the passing from 2008 to 2009 will come 8 hours (and 1 second) before the UK (Iain is even earlier I think). I’ll be asleep!
    It used to seem ridiculous that in 2012 I could retire, the date seemed unreachable. Now I’m almost there. I’m content with that – I’m sensing the changes in myself.
    I recall striking the bell 108 times in Reading – you were there as was Rev Olwen. I’m grateful for that opportunity.
    In gassho

  3. Have I missed something? Why 108 strikes of the bell? New Year’s Eve is just another day/night really and I always expect the coming year to be the usual mix of good and not so good – so far I have not been let down. New Year is just a further example of impermanence when all is said and done……May all beings be well and happy in 2009.

  4. …comment to the ceremony last evening. Yah, New Year’s Eve what’s the big deal when all is said and done? Sitting there during the ceremony, being present with all the others who were present, listening to the bell and gong and voices you could say there was ‘nothing special’.

    The happy we wish for ourselves, and for others, can however be given expression in words and actions and is ever present. Perhaps marking the turning of the year as we do draws attention to that deeper turning within. Nothing special, no weight, no flavour, priceless. I’m not making a case for anything, just making an observation.

    Thank you anonymous commenter for joining in the turning of the year, and for drawing out the meaning.

  5. not medieval at all. Just some ‘bright spark’ as it says in the link I gave who, finding the wind extinguishing the candles lighting the silver bands music, came up with the idea of flaming tar barrels to illuminate the music. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time I guess.

  6. New Year 1997-1998 I’d think that was. Retirement it is then Walter and you will be back in the UK to enjoy crisp winters and questionable summers and all the atmospheric wonder which is Britain.

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