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Brighton's Burning!

Dicembre 2009
Le antiche tradizioni si perdono inevitabilmente con il passare del tempo. Ma è anche vero che se ne possono inventare di nuove! Così ha fatto Brighton con Burning the Clocks, per celebrare in modo creativo (e laico) il solstizio d’inverno.

di John Rigg

File audio:

Burning the Clocks Celebration
Burning the Clocks Celebration

Speaker: Justin Ratcliffe (Standard British accent)

Every year on December 21st time stops. It’s the winter solstice. Time slows down and then the impossible happens: the pendulum of time stops. There is a moment of limbo. Only an explosion of energy can start the pendulum again.


The people of Brighton must save the world. In the evening they leave their homes in colourful costumes. They hold clock lanterns of different sizes and join a parade through the streets. Drummers play as the parade marches to the seafront. Here the people place their lanterns on a huge pyre. Finally, there is an explosion of light: fireworks fill the sky and the enormous pyre bursts into flames. The clocks of the world tick once more and the new solar year begins. This is Brighton’s Burning the Clocks celebration.


Burning the Clocks isn’t a traditional pagan festival; it’s the invention of community arts group Same Sky. They say: “We created Burning the Clocks as an antidote to the commercialisation of Christmas. It’s a non-religious event  that everyone can join in.”
The group took elements from the past, like pagan solstice festivals, celebrations of place and home, and the sharing of hopes for the future. Organiser Rebecca Smith explains: “People make their own lanterns. Each one is unique and precious, but everyone then gives their lantern to the fire.” Burning the Clocks has about 1,000 participants and attracts 20,000 spectators each year.


Same Sky organise festival workshops in schools and the community. They teach people how to make the lanterns from willow and paper. Same Sky has a similar project in London: you can see their lily lanterns in the fountains of Trafalgar Square during the Asian festival of Diwali. The group organises artistic projects throughout Britain and the world.

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time slows down - il tempo rallenta.

drummers - percussionisti.

seafront - lungomare.

huge pyre - enorme falò.

fireworks - fuori artificiali.

bursts into flames - esplode in fiamme.

tick once more - riprendono a ticchettare.

community arts group - comune di artisti.

everyone can join in - a cui tutti possono partecipare.

sharing - condivisione.

workshops - laboratori.

willow - vimini.