Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/54

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46
SUPERSTITIONS OP THE SCOTTISH FISHERMEN.

From time immemorial the fishermen and seamen of Burghead, in Duffus parish, Elginshire, on Yule Night, o. s., met at the west end of the town, carrying an old barrel and other combustible materials, of which the following additional note may be recorded—

This barrel having been sawn in two, the lower half is nailed into a long spoke of firewood, which serves for a handle. This nail must not he struck by a hammer, but driven in by a stone. The half-barrel is then filled with dry wood saturated with tar, and built up like a pyramid, leaving only a hollow to receive a burning peat, for no lucifer-match must he applied. Should the bearer stumble or fall the consequences would be unlucky to the town and to himself. The Clavie is thrown down the western side of the hill, and a desperate scramble ensues for the burning brands, possession of which is accounted to bring good luck, and the embers are carried home and carefully preserved till the following year as a safeguard against all manner of evil. In bygone times it was thought necessary that one man should carry it right round the town, so the strongest was selected for the purpose. It was also customary to carry the Clavie round every ship in the harbour, a part of the ceremony which has lately been discontinued. In 1875, however, the Clavie was duly carried to one vessel just ready for sea. Handfuls of grain were thrown upon her deck, and amid a shower of fire-water she received the suggestive name of "Doorie." The modern part of the town is not included in the circuit. According to a correspondent of Notes and Queries ser. I. vol. v. p. 5, the following superstitious observances formerly existed among the fishermen of Preston Pans:

If on their way to their boats they met a pig they at once turned back, and deferred their embarkation. The event was an omen that boded ill to their fishing.

It was a custom also of theirs to set out on the Sunday for the fishing grounds. A clergyman of the town was said to pray against their Sabbath-breaking, and to prevent any injury which might result from his prayers, the fishernen made a small image of rags and burned it on the tops of their chimneys.

In the year 1885 some of the fishermen of Buckie, owing to the herring fishing being very backward, dressed a cooper in a flannel