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Wednesday, 15 July 2015


"Build traditions of family vacations and trips and outings. These memories will never be forgotten by your children."
Ezra Taft Benson

On Monday, here in Northern Ireland, we celebrated the Twelfth. Usually the holiday is celebrated on the 12th of July but as it fell on a Sunday this year we had to celebrate on the 13th. The last few years they've tried to rebrand the holiday as Orangefest. Perhaps as a way to disguise a holiday that for a lot of people raises tensions and make the holiday seem more inclusive. I mean, who doesn't want to check out something with 'fest' in the name? Everybody loves a 'festival'! But underneath the spiffy new name it's just the same as it always was. To me at least. So I guess I'm using the name Orangefest a tad ironically.

I was brought up in a Protestant household. Presbyterian. I went to Church and Sunday school as a child and naturally we celebrated the Twelfth every year. My parents, nor my family, ever brought me up to be sectarian. My best friend growing up was Catholic and went to a Catholic school. She, nor her family, ever judged me for celebrating the Twelfth and at times she even came to parades with me. It took me a while to realise it wasn't something everybody celebrated. It took time for me to notice the divide. As a kid I didn't fully understand the background, religious and political aspect to the celebration. All I knew is that I enjoyed the parades, the music, the fun and the feeling of patriotism it gave me. And while I understand more about it today, that part of it has never changed for me.

Many regard the Twelfth as a sectarian celebration and a minority continue to fan the flames by raising tensions and taking part in violence that most people condemn. But to me it has been and always will be about tradition and a celebration of patriotism and unionism. I understand and respect everyone's opinions and beliefs but these are mine and I do not wish to debate that on my blog. I just want to share the lovely family day I had on Monday, if that's okay. So on to that!

We didn't get up quite early enough to catch the Bangor bands make there way to the train station to go to Holywood. I was feeling pretty rough in the morning so I didn't rush myself. My mum decided she wasn't coming alone to the parade as she hasn't been well either and she was worried her anxiety would spoil our day. However, my aunt Karen decided she'd tag along with us as she hadn't been to the parades in a couple of years. Sadly Jann couldn't make it home this year either, so it was Eva, Dad, aunt Karen and I. Around 11am we all piled into the car and set off for Holywood.
By the time we got there I was feeling even worse. Not only did I have an awful headache, I felt really sick and a bit faint. I hope this wouldn't cast a shadow over the whole day. Once we find our spot to watch the parade, Eva and Dad set off to find some food and left me with my aunt Karen. There's always more than an hour wait for the parade to actually reach you but on a good day it isn't boring. The weather was less than optimal but it could have been worse. Dad and Eva came back from a chippy and once I got some food into me I started to perk up. My outfit of the day on the Twelfth is always red, white and blue to go with the patriotic theme. This year I wore a blue vest, white leggings and red converse.

During the wait a few people came around selling various things, like whistles, wiggly snakes and flags. I have quite a collection of flags now as I end up buying one every year. I also bought a wiggly snake (which Eva is pictured holding) but Eva broke it before we got home. I also had two unrelated wheelchair breakdowns which helped pass time as we tried to figure out how to fix my chair! I also took the opportunity to snap some photos of us. 

Eventually we could hear the bands in the distance and once two police motorbikes went by and a car came into view we knew they wouldn't be long behind. 

So there's an abundance of photos from the parade. I love the different uniforms and styles. Some more traditional and other's more colourful etc. I also love seeing children taking part. I always wanted to be in the parade. I think my favourite photo I took of the parade was the little girl kitted out in her kilt and bagpipes. She was just adorable. Anyway, after the parade passed we followed it to 'the field'. The field is basically the destination of the parade. There's rides, stalls, food trucks and such. They chill there until they do the home leg of the parade, which can be interesting as they're all usually pretty drunk by that stage. But yeah, we walked behind the bands with the crowd to the field. Aunty Karen opted not to go with us as there was just too many people for her. Admittedly it was a bit of a battle to get through everyone, even though we were all going the same way. It took us about 10 to 15 minutes to crawl our way there. We actually spent less time in the field. I bought myself a little Union Jack necklace keepsake to go along with my flag and snake. We also bought some Dinkie Donuts, which I'd been really looking forward to.

We made our way around the rest of the field and had a look around. Every year the parade changes where it is. Last year it was in Newtownards and the year before that it was in Bangor, my home town. Every field has it's pros and cons and the con of this one was that it was quite small, meaning it was very cramped and humid. We opted not to get any other food as we'd ate while waiting on the bands but on our way out Dad and Eva had a go at one of the games.

They were both close but sadly neither of them won anything. We then headed out of the field, which was a lot easier than getting in and that concluded our festivities of the Twelfth. Obviously our day didn't end then but I'll tell you about the rest of the day on Sunday in My Week In Words.


  1. Really interesting!! I have never heard of this before.. my mom was raised Protestant but I doubt she's ever heard of this! My sister and I were raised to believe in God and went to church. I still believe in God, it's the church and religion parts that I still have problems with but that's a long story!

    The pictures of the parade are interesting! I got way too excited seeing the kids in their kilts! Too cute! Sounds like you had a good time despite the wheelchair breakdowns (was wondering about that on FB) and you and your aunt feeling crappy the whole time! :D

    1. Aha. Yeah. It's a Northern Irish Protestant thing really. Though other places around the world do celebrate it since people from Ireland kind of scattered all over the place. Lol. Ah, yes. I understand that. I identify as an Atheist these days but I respect everyone's faith so long as they don't judge other's for not sharing it. For me personally the Twelfth is more about a celebration of unionism than religion. :)

      Haha. Yeah. I love seeing them in the uniforms. Gosh, I was worried that we were in for a third break down with the rain but luckily I was okay. My aunt enjoyed the parade but it was just the crowds after. :) x

  2. Glad you had a good day! It's always hit or miss in NI with outdoor events and the weather!

    1. Haha. You got it right! The weather could have been better but we've had a lot worse so I can't really complain. :D


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