Participants in Burning Away the Winter Blues take part in a torch-lit procession along a riverfront path, led by a giant effigy of the Winter Blues, uniquely created each year by a local artist. The procession moves onto a candle-lit path through the woods, finally reaching a roaring bonfire. Drummers drum, chanters chant and fire-spinners spin; people visit and talk and near the end of the evening, when the effigy is tossed into the fire, a cheer goes up. Along with the effigy, a bag is thrown into the fire containing paper representations of the participants’ winter blues. The blues that are burned can be everything from chemistry notes - to symbolic last packages of cigarettes - to love letters - to just a few lines on a piece of paper describing what’s bugging you. The ceremonial burning of the blues is a symbolic gesture to bring closure to winter and welcome spring.
The evening ends on a hopeful note as the dragon of spring dances, and sunflower seeds, representing sun and spring and hope, are passed out by young children. This year, people can also email or mail in their blues ahead of time to be burned away on March 22nd.
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