Tonight ( 11 January 2002 ) the Moray town of Burghead will celebrate
"Auld Hogmany" with an ancient fire festival -The Burning of
the Clavie. The history of Burghead goes back some 1500 years when it
was the site of an important promontary fort, one of the most
magnificent centres of Pictish power. From the fort, built in the 4th or
5th centuries, have come stone slabs carved with Pictish motifs,
including the famous Burghead bull - two examples of which are in the
local museum. The present day Burning of the Clavie in Burghead is
obviously a reminder of those far-off days. The word appears to be a
corruption of the Gaelic 'cliabh' ( pronounced clee-av ), a basket, the
fire being carried in a basket-like instrument which bears that name.
The Clavie is packed with tar soaked sticks and mixed with peat, before
being set alight and carried round the town by the "Clavie
King" and his "Clavie Crew", followed by the residents of
Burghead. It is then taken up Doorie Hill to the ramparts of the ancient
Pictish fort and allowed to burn out. The embers are supposed to be
lucky and are collected by the Clavie followers. The luck is said to
last for a year. This column cannot pass the luck of the Clavie to you
but can suggest a way to join with the good folk of Burghead in spirit!
The traditional drink, in the past, for celebrating Hogmany in Scotland
was Het Pint, of which Sir Walter Scott wrote -
'...it was uncanny and would certainly have felt it uncomfortable, not
to welcome the New Year in the midst of his family, and few
friends , with the immemorial libation of a het pint.'
The Het pint was traditionally carried through the streets at Hogmanay,
in large copper kettles, known as toddy kettles, several hours before
'the chappin o the Twal'.
Ingredients : 4 pt mild ale; 1 teasp. grated nutmeg; 4 oz sugar; 3 eggs;
1/2 pt Whisky
Put the ale into a thick saucepan, then add the nutmeg, and bring
to just below boiling point. ( If it boils, the alcoholic content is
considerably lowered. ) Stir in the sugar and let it dissolve. Beat the
eggs very well, and add them gradually to the beer, stirring all the
time so that it doesn't curdle. Then add the Whisky , and heat up,
but on no account boil. Pour the liquid from the saucepan into heated
tankards, back and forth so that it becomes clear and sparkling.