Monday, January 11, 2010

Auld New Year, Scotland

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted
Burning the Clavie, Burghead, Morayshire, Scotland

The people of the north-eastern Scottish fishing port of Burghead enact the ritual Burning of the Clavie (tar barrel) on January 11, preferring their Hogmanay (Scottish New Year's Eve celebration) according to the Old Style calendar that was in use in Scotland until 1660.

So, on the evening of Auld New Year at 6 o'clock, the tar barrel (clavie) is set alight and paraded around town. The clavie is the bottom part of a wooden barrel, mounted on a pole and filled with tar-soaked wood, and must be lit with a piece of burning peat from a local household fire.

The barrel is pounded onto an eight-foot pole called 'the spoke' (using a round stone, never a hammer), the same nail being ritually used every year – perhaps there's a link between clavie and clavus, the Latin for 'nail', though it might come from the Gaelic word for basket, cliabh. Then the clavie is hoisted onto the shoulders of a local villager and the procession begins.

The clavie crew of nine or ten local men (led by the 'Clavie King') must make sure that the clavie isn't dropped, or else bad luck will come to Burghead in the coming year. Eventually, after the crew has stopped at a number of traditional stations along the route, it reaches its destination at an ancient mound called Doorie where it's set on a specially prepared base. It is allowed to burn for some time, before being ritualistically broken up with a hatchet. Flaming embers are then snatched up by onlookers. Traditionally these used to be kindling for a special New Year Fire in the home, but are now kept for luck and even sent to relatives or friends who have moved away from the district.

Opinions differ as to the roots of the ancient festival of the Burning of the Clavie – it might be Pictish, Celtic, Viking or Roman in origin, but it is certainly pre-Christian ...

Categories: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker