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happens to be frozen hard at the time, bonfires are lit also on the ice. At Grand Halleux they set up a pole called makral, or “the witch," in the midst of the pile, and the fire is kindled by the man who was last married in the village. In the neighbourhood of Morlanwelz a straw man is burnt in the fire. Young people and children dance and sing round the bonfires, and leap over the embers to secure good crops or a happy marriage within the year, or as a means of guarding themselves against colic. In Brabant on the same Sunday, down to the beginning of the nineteenth century, women and men disguised in female attire used to go with burning torches to the fields, where they danced and sang comic songs for the purpose, as they alleged, of driving away “the wicked sower," who is mentioned in the Gospel for the day.
In the French department of the Ardennes the whole village used to dance and sing round the bonfires which were lighted on the first Sunday in Lent. Here, too, it was the person last married, sometimes a man and sometimes a woman, who put the match to the fire. The custom is still kept up very commonly in the district. Cats used to be burnt in the fire or roasted to death by being held over it ; and while they were burning the shepherds drove their flocks through the smoke and flames as a sure means of guarding them against sickness and witchcraft.
In some communes it was believed that the livelier the dance round the fire, the better would be the crops that year. In the Vosges Mountains it is still customary to light great fires on the heights and around the villages on the first Sunday in Lent; and at Rupt and elsewhere the right of kindling them belongs to the person who was last married. Round the fires the people dance and sing merrily till the flames have died out. Then the master of the fire, as they call the man who kindled it, invites all who contributed to the crection of the pile to follow him to the nearest tavern, where they partake of good chcer. At Dommartin they say that, if you would have the hemp tall, it is absolutely necessary
1 Reinsberg-Düringsseld, Calendrier Belge, i. 141-143; E. Monseur, le Folklore Wallon, p. 124 sq.
? A. Meyrac, Traditions, coutumes, légendes el contes des Ardennes (Charle. ville, 1890), p. 68.
that the women should be tipsy on the evening of this day.' At Épinal in the Vosges, on the first Sunday in Lent, bonfires used to be kindled at various places both in the town and on the banks of the Moselle. They consisted of pyramids of sticks and faggots, which had been collected some days earlier by young folks going from door to door. When the flames blazed up, the names of various couples, whether young or old, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, were called out, and the persons thus linked in mock marriage were forced, whether they liked it or not, to march arm in arm round the fire amid the laughter and jests of the crowd. The festivity lasted till the fire died out, and then the spectators dispersed through the streets, stopping under the windows of the houses and proclaiming the names of the féchenots and féchenottes or Valentines whom the popular voice had assigned to each other. These couples had to exchange presents; the mock bridegroom gave his mock bride something for her toilet, while she in turn presented him with a cockade of coloured ribbon. Next Sunday, if the weather allowed it, all the couples, arrayed in their best attire and attended by their relations, repaired to the wood of Saint Antony, where they mounted a famous stone called the danserosse or danseresse. Here they found cakes and refreshments of all sorts, and danced to the music of a couple of fiddlers. The evening bell, ringing the Angelus, gave the signal to depart. As soon as its solemn chime was heard, every one quitted the forest and returned home. The exchange of presents between the Valentines went by the name of ransom or redemption (rachat), because it was supposed to redeem the couple from the flames of the bonfire. Any pair who failed thus to ransom themselves i'crc not suffered to share the merrymaking at the great stone in the forest; and a pretence was made of burning them in small fires kindled before their own doors.?
In some parts of France people used to go about the roads and fields with lighted torches on the first Sunday in Lent, warning the fruit-trecs that if they did not take heed and bcar fruit they would surely be cut down and cast into the
IL. F. Sauvé, Le Folk-lore des 2 E. Cortet, Essai sur les files ri. Haules-Vosges, p. 56.
ligieuses, p. 101 sq.
On the same day peasants in the department of Loiret used to run about the sowed fields with burning torches in their hands, while they adjured the field-mice to quit the wheat on pain of having their whiskers burned.? In the department of Ain the great fires of straw and faggots which are kindled in the fields at this time are or were supposed to destroy the nests of the caterpillars. At Verges, a lonely village surrounded by forests between the Jura and the Combe d'Ain, the torches used at this season were kindled in a peculiar manner. The young people climbed to the top of a mountain, where they placed three nests of straw in three trees. These nests being then set on fire, torches made of dry limewood were lighted at them, and the merry troop descended the mountain to their flickering light, and went to every house in the village, demanding roasted peas and obliging all couples who had been married within the year to dance." In the centre of France it appears that bonfires are not lighted on this day, but when the sun has set the whole population of the villages, armed with blazing torches of straw, disperse over the country and scour the fields, the vineyards, and the orchards. Seen from afar, the multitude of moving lights, twinkling in the darkness, appear like willo'-the-wisps chasing each other across the plains, along the hillsides, and down the valleys. While the men wave their flambeaus about the branches of the fruit-trees, the women and children tie bands of wheaten-straw round the treetrunks. The effect of the ceremony is supposed to be to avert the various plagues from which the fruits of the earth are apt to suffer; and the bands of straw fastened round the stems of the trees are believed to render them fruitful." In the peninsula of La Manchcthc Norman peasants used to spend almost the whole night of the first Sunday in Lent rushing about the country with lighted torches for the purpose, as they supposed, of driving away the moles and field-mice; fires were also kindled on some of the dolmens.
i Cortet, op. cit. p. 99 sq.
? A. de Nore, Coutumes, mrthes it traditions des proiinies de Franci, p. 283 st.
A similar, though not identical, custom prevailed at Valenciennes (ibid. p. 338).
3 A. de Nore, op. cit. p. 302.
+ D. Monnier, Traditions populaires comparies, p. 191 54.
6 Laisnel de la Salle, Croyances et legendes du centre de la Franir, i. 35 899. 6 Lec@ur, Esquisses du Bocage
In Germany at the same season similar customs have prevailed. Thus in the Eifel Mountains, Rhenish Prussia, on the first Sunday in Lent young people used to collect straw and brushwood from house to house.
These they carried to an eminence and piled up round a tall, slim beech-tree, to which a piece of wood was fastened at right angles to form a cross. The structure was known as the “hut” or castle.” Fire was set to it and the young people marched round the blazing "castle" bareheaded, each carrying a lighted torch and praying aloud. Sometimes a straw-man was burned in the “hut.”
People observed the direction in which the smoke blew from the fire. If it blew towards the corn-fields, it was a sign that the harvest would be abundant. On the same day, in some parts of the Eifel, a great wheel was made of straw and dragged by three horses to the top of a hill. Thither the village boys marched at nightfall, set fire to the wheel, and sent it rolling down the slope. Two lads followed it with levers to set it in motion again, in case it should anywhere meet with a check. At Oberstattfeld the wheel had to be provided by the young man who was last married. About Echternach the same ceremony is called
burning the witch”; while it is going on, the older men ascend the heights and observe what wind is blowing, for that is the wind which will prevail the whole year.” At Voralberg in the Tyrol, on the first Sunday in Lent, a slender young fir-tree is surrounded with a pile of straw and firewood. To the top of the tree is fastened a human figure called the "witch," made of old clothes and stuffed with gunpowder. At night the whole is set on fire and boys and girls dance round it, swinging torches and singing rhymes in which the words "corn in the winnowing-basket, the plough in the earth” may be distinguished. In Swabia on the first Sunday in Lent a figure called the "witch " or the "old wife” or “winter's grandmother” is made up of Normand, ii. 131 $9. For more evi. Eisler Volkes, i. 21-25; N. Hocker, in deoce of customs of this sort observed Zäitschrift für deutsche Mythologie und in rarious parts of France on the first Sillenkundi, i. (1853), p. 90; B.K. Sunday in Lent, see Madame Clément,
p. 501. llistoire des Fêtes civiles et religieuses, ? N. Hocker, op. cit. p. 89 54. ; etc., du Département du Nord? (Cam
B.K. p. 501. Lrai, 1836), p. 351 399.
3 Vonbun, Beiträge cur deutschen 1 Schmitz, Sillen und Sagen, etc., des Vithologie, p. 20 ; b.kip 501.
clothes and fastened to a pole. This is stuck in the middle of a pile of wood, to which fire is applied. While the " witch” is burning, the young people throw blazing discs into the air. The discs are thin round pieces of wood, a few inches in diameter, with notched edges to imitate the rays of the sun or stars. They have a hole in the middle, by which they are attached to the end of a wand. Before the disc is thrown it is set on fire, the wand is swung to and fro, and the impetus thus communicated to the disc is augmented by dashing the rod sharply against a sloping board. The burning disc is thus thrown off, and mounting high into the air, describes a long curve before it reaches the ground. A single lad may fing up forty or fifty of these discs, one after the other. The object is to throw them as high as possible. The wand by which they are hurled must, at least in some parts of Swabia, be of hazel. Sometimes the lads also leap over the fire brandishing lighted torches of pine-wood. The charred embers of the burned "witch” and discs are taken home and planted in the flaxfields the same night, in the belief that they will keep vermin from the fields. At Wangen, near Molsheim in Baden, a like custom is observed on the first Sunday in Lent. The young people kindle a bonfire on the crest of the mountain above the village ; and the burning discs which they hurl into the air are said to present in the darkness the aspect of a continual shower of falling stars. When the supply of discs is exhausted and the bonfire begins to burn low, the boys light torches and run with them at full speed down one or other of the three steep and winding paths that descend the mountain-side to the village. Bumps, bruises, and scratches are often the result of their efforts to outstrip cach other in the headlong race.” In the Rhön Mountains, Bavaria, on the first Sunday in Lent, the people