the second Friday in August is an exciting time in the community of South Queensferrry, outside Edinburgh, Scotland.
That’s when the town holds an event that takes some explaining: the Burryman’s Parade.
It’s a local tradition that takes place at the same time as South Queensferry’s annual Ferry Fair.
The parade goes back so many centuries that nobody knows for sure how it started or what it originally represented.
One story says that in pagan times, bringing out the Burryman each year would help bring a good harvest to farmers or a good catch for fishing boats.
Other stories say he collected money from the town that was then used for entertaining everyone at a summer fair.
But even if modern-day paradegoers don’t have all the answers about the event, it’s a tradition people like to keep – even the guy who would have some really good reasons to want it shut down.
The Burryman’s Parade is so named because the actual Burryman is covered in huge amounts of burrs, specifically the sharp seedheads from burdock plants.
He does get to wear a layer of clothes underneath, and there are many anti-burr precautions, like sewing the Burryman’s headcovering to his shirt so his neck is protected.
Still, it’s not the most comfortable suit in the world.
Modern-day Burryman Andrew Taylor ended up in the hospital for four hours in 2014, after one of the burrs from his suit got stuck in his eye.
He told the Daily Record “It did help that I could take a little sip of whisky throughout the day. That eased the pain.”
And this is another key part of the tradition: while the Burryman lumbers around in this painful pokey suit all day, he stops at every public house along the route, and each one gives him a straw through which he gets a dram of whisky.
Locals can also offer drams to the Burryman.
He can have 15 or 20 in the course of the day!
And some people will either touch his suit for good luck, or they give or take a burr or two.
While other members of the entourage will ring bells and shout “Hip hip hooray, it’s the Burryman’s Day,” the Burryman himself typically doesn’t talk.
But really, he’s already got plenty to do.
Today in North Plains, Oregon, it’s the annual Elephant Garlic festival.
There will be food, road races, a car show and live entertainment, all of which you can find out about at their website with this appropriate and amazing name: FunStinks.com.
‘Not many people can say they are the Burryman’ (The Scotsman)