Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Autumn has come to the scattered villages of the Upper Nith Valley. In my dacha, the log and peat fire has been roaring this last three days. How the children look forward to this time of year! Kind hearted creatures that they are, though, there are always tears when we go into the back room and select a favourite goose or bullock to slaughter for the spit. Autumn of course brings the festival of St Kevin when local misers are strangled and we give each other gifts of gravel in small hand embroidered boxes. St Kevin, as you probably know, is famous for his miraculous interventions on behalf of those suffering embarrassing itching, but less well known is the local superstitions concerning his potency as a fertility symbol. As famous local antiquarian Ansel Brown wrote in his seminal work “The Upper Nith Valley in the Pre-Christian Era’, “This variation of St Kevin shares much in its traditions and symbolism to the Dionysian Cults, for instance in some remote local areas it is still not uncommon to see priapuses erected in lay-bys and there is still a widely held belief in certain areas that on the feast days of St Kevin young women can become pregnant simply by drinking 14 bottles of Blue WKD and wandering about for a while in the streets."

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