Winter festivals feature fire in Spain and Scotland

An article on Boston.com looks at the power of purifying fire in European myth and imagination in two festivals, Up Helly Aa and the Feast of Saint Anthony the Great. (22 large photos)

Up Helly Aa, celebrated since the 19th century on Scotland's Shetland Islands, is a fire festival that commemorates the Viking influence on the islands by dressing as Norsemen and throwing flaming torches into a Viking longship.

The Festival of Saint Anthony the Great, which takes place in San Bartolome de Pinares, Spain, is a purification festival where revelers have their horses and mules blessed by a priest, and then ride them through bonfires to purify the animals.