National Geographic : 1954 Dec
862 Weary Warriors Pause for Tea and Cakes as Festival Night Draws to a Close Although Scotland acquired the Shetlands in 1469, Norse language, laws, and customs continued in use until the 17th century. Even today Shetlanders retain links with their Viking past. "Scoff not at the guest, nor drive him to the door," counseled the Havamal, the Viking code of morality. At festival time Lerwick hosts and hostesses live up to the code with all-night parties, demonstrating at the same time another tenet of Norse belief, "Man is the delight of man." Guizer squads are honor bound to visit all open halls and restaurants hired for the occasion. Each group presents a skit, indulges in the aff-lay, dances Highland reels, schottisches, and waltzes, and partakes of the feast. With many a laugh the revelers recall the jokes in the Bill, a posted proclamation that pries good-humoredly into Lerwick's private lives. Having eaten and danced its fill, each squad cheers its hosts and passes on to another establishment. In 1953, fifty squads made the rounds. By 5 or 6 in the morning even the sturdiest feet are weary and the brightest eyes are bleary. As the final squad concludes its show, everyone sings "Auld Lang Syne." Then the old folks climb into bed while the young troop out to watch the sun come up over the sea. Soon they, too, will be asleep, and Up Helly Aa, the strange festival recalling the lusty days of the Norsemen, will be gone for another year. Happily, the day following Up Helly Aa is always a holiday in Lerwick.