Why 11th January? This is the date of the Burning of the Clavie, a fire festival unique to Burghead, which greets the New Year. The significance of the 11th January dates back to the 1750’s, when the Julian calendar was reformed in Britain. The new Gregorian calendar was introduced. People rioted, demanding back their 11 days – but not in Burghead. Brochers decided to have the best of both worlds, by celebrating New Year twice – on 1st January and the 11th January.
Therefore, every 11th January the flaming Clavie (a barrel full of staves) is carried round the town followed by a large crowd. The final destination of the Clavie is on the Doorie Hill on the ramparts of the ancient fort, where it is firmly wedged and after refuelling is allowed to burn out and fall down the hill when still smouldering embers are eagerly gathered. Possession of a piece of the Clavie is said to bring good luck for the coming year and pieces are sent around the world to exiled ‘Brochers’.
The Burning of the Clavie dates much further back than the 1750s, of course. Like many other fire festivals, its origins are lost in the mists of time.
Keep up to date with the event schedule by checking the Burghead Visitor Centre Website.