Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: Burning the Clavie

Burning the Clavie is a Scottish fire festival observed on January 11th (the first day of the Julian Calender) at Burghead, a fishing village on the Moray Firth. The clavie is a peat and wood filled herring barrel which is set ablaze and carried on a pole though the village. The fiery procession is led by the Clavie King and his crew of about ten men, traditionally fishermen.

"Clavie King Hopping About the Flames"
Courtesy of: Yewtreenights.blogspot.com 
The burning clavie is paraded though the streets (sometimes on the back of the Clavie King!) and onlookers rush to grab the smoldering pieces, which are believed to bring good luck. The barrel eventually crumbles and the blazing embers are strewn over the summit of Doorie Hill before being shared among the townspeople.

Clergymen in the 18th century condemned this fire festival as "an abominable, heathenish practice" and tried to put a stop to it. This tradition used to be more widespread but now only survives in Burghead in the northeast of Scotland.

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