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Allendale Parade, Northumberland, England
1972, 31 December
Gelatin silver print
Provided by the artist - Homer Sykes
© Homer Sykes
New Years Eve or Hogmanay is of course much more a celebration in the north than the south, and Allendale would feel the influences of Scotland strongly. There, celebrations start like elsewhere shortly before midnight, but as the New Year draws closer, local men known as "guisers" dressed in fancy dress carry flaming tar barrels in procession around the town on their head, eventually to be thrown into a celebratory bonfire as midnight strikes. Traditional first footing used to take place in outlying villages where open house was held for all the "guisers". The first record of this celebration is recorded in the Hexham Courant of 1884 but was probably practiced well before that date.
This photograph was included in the book by Homer Sykes "Once a Year: Some Traditional British Customs" (Gordon Faser, 1977)