October 19, 2020

Burghead Clavie – is it a universal story of identity?

Anna McPherson

FilmThe Clavie - A Story of Identity, 2010

The annual fire burning ceremony of the Burghead Clavie dates back to the 1750s when the Julian calendar was reformed in Britain to the Gregorian calendar. This brought about celebrating New Year a second time on the 11th January in Burghead. To the local community, it is a traditional ceremony to ring in the new year and connect with our primeval past. To some onlookers it’s nothing more than a spectacle and a waste of local resources. Why do we look backwards? Is there a part of us that yearns for connection with our past? Do past events give us justification for how we feel? Is our history so ingrained in our DNA that we need to re-enact old traditions and not forget where we’ve come from? Identity; what is it? Is it our history, heritage, origin, beliefs, a feeling, or something else? Is identity an individual, or part of a mass? Should identity be forward looking? The Clavie is a celebration of hope and wonder of what the new year may bring. The apparent good luck that comes from grabbing a piece of smouldering ember ‘the Clavie’ will certainly be well sought after in 2021!