Burning of the Clavie: Rare Scottish New Year celebration that takes place in Burghead on January 11

The New Year celebrations are beginning all over again in one Scottish village this evening, with the arrival of the Burning of the Clavie.

The Burning of the Clavie , with the traditional fire ceremony little changed for hundreds of years. The annual ceremony, which always takes place in Burghead in Moray on January 11, marks the occasion that Hogmanay was formerly celebrated in Scotland.

The change came in the 1700s with the introduction of the Gregorian calendar. While elsewhere in Scotland the original celebrations came to an end, Burghead decided to simply celebrate Hogmanay twice, holding on to the Clavie burning tradition.

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Each year the population of the small village swells with visitors as the Clavie, a 100kg barrel filled with wooden staves and tar and mounted on a large post, is carried round the town followed by a large crowd. The Clavie taken to Doorie Hill and placed on the ramparts of an Iron Age fort.

Once the Clavie has burned out and falls down the hill, the crowds chase after the smouldering embers and gather them up for good luck. Pieces are also sent to villagers - or Brochers - around the world with some householders traditionally pinning the pieces of burnt wood above their front doors. Dan Ralph, a joiner and undertaker, has been the Clavie King since 1988.

It was his father, Jock, who revived the ceremony with the help of two friends - James ‘Peep’ McKenzie and James ‘Lichtie’ McKenzie - after returning from service during World War II, when the burning was banned during the blackout.

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