Our latest Curiosity of the Week is a unique custom in Scotland that involves a man completely covering himself in sticky burrs…
The Burryman traditionally sees a man, covered from head to toe in sticky green burrs, parading through the town of South Queensferry, near Edinburgh. But why? Well, no one actually knows for sure!
The custom has been taking place annually since at least the late 17th century and for many years took place on the day before the local Ferry Fair. The Burryman (or Burry Man) is most likely to have been a pagan ritual, connected to the harvest. However, there are other theories about how this strange parade began.
The Burryman traditionally paraded around the town, calling at houses, pubs and businesses, collecting gifts and money (and a dram or two of whisky) as he went. This was probably believed to bring good luck.
The Burryman’s costume is made up of sticky burrs (the sticky flower heads of the burdock plant), which he covers himself in, and is topped off with a hat made of flowers. The costume is completed with a flag tied around the waist and two staves decorated with flowers. The Burryman holds a stave in each hand as he walks around, helped by two smartly dressed attendants. It’s a tricky and prickly task, but one much respected by the local community.
Today, the current Burryman still goes out (with a bit of help from his family) to collect the burrs from the local countryside, ready for the annual parade. This year’s Burryman walkabout will take place on Friday 10th August around the South Queensferry area. It’s free to watch and everyone is encouraged to head out and support this unique custom.
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