The Hebridean tradition of Oidhche Challainn the ancient fire festival celebrated on the 12th January and my visit to the Clavie celebrations at Burghhead last week, inspired our Arora, fire themed workshop at an Isle of Lewis Care Home today.
We had kindling, peats and lots of old newspaper lined up to make firelighters, as they used to be made, before Zip and paraffin drenched blocks were commercially available.
In the 1960s I remember the Daily Express, the only daily newspaper delivered to the village, only because of the cartoon Rupert Bear and making firelighters.
In the past fire-lighters were made by rolling, random folding and or careful folding, to make concertina type bows and then knotted tightly to make a core for the fire to grip.
Re-cycling is nothing new in the crofting communities. Any unused cardboard was carefully cut into strips and carefully placed between the folds of the concertina type fire lighter. They would help get the stove underway to heat up the household water supply.
At today’s gathering we had peat cutting stories, tips on setting and banking up a fire, and memories of red peat ash.
These are some of the fire related words from today:
Plòithtean: Large peat used at the back of the fire
Tasgadh: The preserving of the fire overnight. It was covered with ashes or a large peat as above
Cainnean: Speck of fire often on a spill used for lighting a pipe. There was always a jar of spills on the hearth for this purpose.
Fàd : A peat
Caoran : Broken bits of peat
Craos math teine: A great fire
Eibhlean : Embers
Togail an teine: Getting the fire going