Burning the Clavie

My post about Burghead Bay back in January reminded me of the other Burghead thing that we introduced the minxes to: Clavie burning!

Burning the Clavie

What is it? Well, on 11th January every year, the people of Burghead celebrate the old (ie pre-Julian calendar) New Year by burning big wooden staves and tar inside a half-cask that’s securely nailed to a pole. The Clavie King and his Crew parade it through Burghead streets, followed by a huge crowd, occasionally stopping at households to give them smouldering pieces of the clavie for good luck. Eventually the clavie is placed on top of Doorie Hill. When the barrel eventually burns out and falls apart, the crowd clamour for pieces.

burning the clavie

This year we decided to let the minxes go and see it, because it started at 6pm – not too late. Although there was a fire appliance and some police officers in attendance, I was surprised at how hands-off they were. Then again, the Clavie Crew did a fantastic job of both rousing the crowd and keeping them back from harm’s way. At Doorie Hill I didn’t expect the Crew to throw buckets of oil over the Clavie, but they did make some phenomenal fireballs...!

fireballs from the clavie

Maxi desperately wanted to wait until the very end to surge forward for a piece, but being only 6, and with her little sisters being tired and sleepy, with lungs full of tarry smoke, we left around 8pm. It was quite a spectacle, though, and one I hope to see again next year. Next time, though, I’ll wear old clothes – little tar speckles are impossible to wash out of fleece clothing...!

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About the Author

Jay Greengrass

Jay Greengrass

About Me & Mine

Hello! I’m Jay, married to Jon, living in North East Scotland with our 3 daughters: Maxi (10), Midi (8) and Mini Minx (6).

Favourite place in the world:

It’s hard to choose between the stretch of Moray Firth coast between Findhorn and Cullen, and Westray (a northerly Orkney island). Both have an amazing diversity of beautiful coastlines in a small space (empty, clean, sandy beaches; crystal-clear rockpools; crags, cliffs and stacks), fascinating wildlife, friendly people and endlessly interesting weather. Bar visits to friends and relatives, we’ve taken all our holidays in Scotland, north of where we live, for many years. We’ve still barely scratched the surface of this beautiful country.

Favourite things to do outdoors:

Rock-pooling and scrambling on local beaches; camping; walking in the gentler local hills; foraging for fruit and jam-making ingredients; and growing our own fruit and vegetables against the combined deterring efforts of our cat and the weather.

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