Maybe you decided, like us, to celebrate the arrival of 2013 in low-key style this year — no large fancy party, no New York City, no Time Square mayhem. Instead we plan to make a stop at the Hogmanay Bonfire in Lawrenceville and then ring in the new year with a small group of friends.
Hogmanay is a nice way to end the year. It’s also a catharsis of sorts. You create a list of all the bad things you want to forget about from the year that is about to end. You bring the list to the bonfire, toss it in the giant flames, and watch it burn.
One of the things that could sometimes be a nuisance was getting to the bonfire, which takes place at the great meadow behind the Brearley House. It was sometimes tough to make it down the dirt road if two cars were trying to travel in opposite directions or if it was very muddy. The good news for the celebration tonight is that the parking will be offsite at the Brandywine Trust complex on Lenox Drive. Visitors should enter the lot at the light at Princeton Pike and Lenox Drive. Follow the signs, Attendants will also be directing traffic to one of the rear lots, where you can either walk a lighted trail to Brearley House or board a shuttle bus. Handicapped parking will be available at the house (please display a state-issued handicapped plate or hang tag).
The shuttle bus is being provided by Stark and Stark and the Lawrence Historical Society board of trustees. Cake will be available courtesy of Main Street Catering of Kingston and apple cider is being provided by Terhune Orchards. The event, parking, and refreshments are provided for free by the Society, but you can make a donation in the house or online.
Festivities will begin at 6 p.m. when the bonfire will be lit by fire master Joe Logan. A bagpiper will entertain the crowd and the Brearley House will be open for tours.
Paper and pencils will also be available on site for you to write down all the bad things from the previous year that you wish to toss into the fire.
The Hogmanay Bonfire has been a tradition for the Lawrence Historical Society since 1997. The bonfire began as a way to showcase the Brearley House while it was being renovated and proved to be so popular it has become an annual event. Hogmanay is a Scottish New Year’s celebration that has it roots in Pagan tradition. To this day, Hogmanay is the main winter holiday and includes many Christmas-like features, such as gift giving. The most important aspect of any Hogmanay celebration is cleansing for the new year. Cleansing includes paying off old debts, washing the home, and banishing thoughts of bad happenings from the previous year. Other traditions include the banging of pots at midnight to ward off dark spirits, banishing stray dogs to keep evil at bay, and firstfooting — a tradition of visiting friends and relatives at midnight to bring them good cheer to start off the new year.