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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Burning the Clavie

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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 1 Mersenne, Harmonie universelle (Paris, 1636), p. 113, calls the clavicytherium "une nouvelle forme d'epinette dont on use en Italie," and states that the action of the jacks and levers is parallel from back to front.

2 Musica getutscht and auszgezogen (Basel, 1511).

See "Une Piece unique du Musee Kraus de Florence" in Annales de l'alliance scientifique universelle (Paris, 1907).

4 See illustration by William Gibb in A. J. Hipkins's Musical Instruments, Historic, Rare and Unique (1888).

History of the Pianoforte, Novello's Music Primers, No. 52 (1896), P

75 6 L'Antica Musica ridotta moderna prattica (Rome, 1555).

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.


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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Burning the Clavie'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/bri/b/burning-the-clavie.html. 1910.

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