Sunday, 8 January 2012

Temperance Marches.

Each year the North East of Scotland Aberdeenshire villagers of Inverallochy, Cairnbulg and St Combs take part in a temperance walk to shake off the winter cobwebs. Each village in the Buchan Coast takes turns to host the walk which has been happening for over 160 years.

The history of these walks dates back to an evangelical time in the villages when they were regenerated after a bad period during the 19th Century when there was much village fighting and drunkenness which only ended after an outbreak of cholera in 1847. (Well if that isnt a reason to stop drinking I dont know of a better one!)
After this epidemic the communities grew and turned to religion. The tradition of the temperance walks started at this time.

The walkers are led by a flute band and the first villagers to follow them are always the oldest man in the village and a female partner. 
Inverallochy and Cairnbulg are situated each side of a road and are our nearest villages.
Inverallochy starts off the Marches on Christmas Day.  Cairnbulg on the 1st January and St Combs, a few miles down the coast, on the 2nd January.  
Unless any of the days fall on a Sunday. Then its the day after.  
The marches were begun by the women of the villages who were fed up of the amount of whisky consumed by their men folk and presumably the subsequent results they suffered.  I am assuming here that this was the womenfolk getting together and marching round the various hostelries and drinking dens and hauling their men out.  And then making them sing a hymn or two.  
A flute band leads the procession with percussion from bass drum, tenor drum and triangle.  And if you want to get really technical the flutes are 'fifes' and tuned to Bb whatever that is.
The music played is of the "Shall we Gather at the River." ilk.
And we missed all three!!!  Certainly wont miss them next year, if we are spared.....But are you allowed to take a hip flask I wonder?  
Needless to say there are no pubs in any of the villages.  St Combs has a hotel now, though it is well away from the hoosies.  
Certainly a bit of a march to get there.


BadPenny said...

I love reading about history & tradition here so facinating !

Happy New Year !!!

Anonymous said...

How have I never heard of that before? Oh please do go along next year and show us. I bet you could sneak a hip flask in. Those villages sound a bit like parts of the Highlands and islands, where there are no pubs, and the only place to buy a drink is in a hotel. Not that I mind, because I don't usually drink!

Gigi said...

Hee hee - a hip flask indeed! We live in a very intemperent ( is that a word?) little country community. I reckon anyone trying to organize such a thing here would be run out on a rail. Looks like good exercise though ;).

Susan T said...

I have some ancestors who were involved in the Temperance movement, ironic really. I love to see old traditions upheld, a worthwhile change I think from the evils of drink and the grief it caused many families.

C M Flower said...

Surely those drinking whisky and beer would have been better protected from the Cholera than those drinking the water?