1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Clavie, Burning the

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CLAVIE, BURNING THE, an ancient Scottish custom still observed at Burghead, a fishing village on the Moray Firth, near Forres. The “clavie” is a bonfire of casks split in two, lighted on the 12th of January, corresponding to the New Year of the old calendar. One of these casks is joined together again by a huge nail (Lat. clavus; hence the term). It is then filled with tar, lighted and carried flaming round the village and finally up to a headland upon which stands the ruins of a Roman altar, locally called “the Douro.” It here forms the nucleus of the bonfire, which is built up of split casks. When the burning tar-barrel falls in pieces, the people scramble to get a lighted piece with which to kindle the New Year’s fire on their cottage hearth. The charcoal of the clavie is collected and is put in pieces up the cottage chimneys, to keep spirits and witches from coming down.