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used to march to the top of a hill or eminence. Children and lads carried torches, brooms daubed with tar, and poles swathed in straw. A wheel, wrapt in combustibles, was kindled and rolled down the hill; and the young people rushed about the fields with their burning torches and brooms, till at last they Aung them in a heap, and standing round them, struck up a hymn or a popular song. The object of running about the fields with the blazing torches was to “ drive away the wicked sower.” Or it was done in honour of the Virgin, that she might preserve the fruits of the earth throughout the year and bless them.” In neighbouring villages of Hesse, between the Rhön and the Vögel Mountains, it is thought that wherever the burning wheels roll, the fields will be safe from hail and storm.
It seems hardly possible to separate from these bonfires, kindled on the first Sunday in Lent, the fires in which, about the same season, the effigy called Death is burned as part of the ceremony of “carrying out Death.”
carrying out Death.” We have seen that at Spachendorf, in Austrian Silesia, on the morning of Rupert's Day (Shrove Tuesday ?), a straw-man, dressed in a fur coat and a fur cap, is laid in a hole outside the village and there burned, and that while it is blazing every one seeks to snatch a fragment of it, which he fastens to a branch of the highest tree in his garden or buries in his field, believing that this will make the crops to grow better. The ceremony is known as the “burying of Death." 3 Even when the straw-man is not designated as Death, the meaning of the observance is probably the same; for the name Death, as I have tried to show, does not express the original intention of the ceremony.
At Cobern in the Eifel Mountains the lads make up a straw-man on Shrove Tuesday. The effigy is formally tried and accused of having perpetrated all the thefts that have been committed in the neighbourhood throughout the year. Being condemned to death, the straw-man is led through the village, shot, and burned upon a pyre. They dance round the blazing pile, and the
1 Witzschel, Sagen, Sitten und Gi- und Gebräuche, p. 36. bräuche aus Thiiringen, p. 189; Panzer, 3 Th. Vernaleken, lythen und Beitrag cur deutschen Mythologie, ii. Branche des Volkes in Oesterreich, p. 207; B.K. p. 500 sq.
293 sq.; B.K. p. 498. See above, 2 W. Kolbe, Hessiche Volks-Sitten
vol. ii. p. 95.
last bride must leap over it. In Oldenburg on the evening of Shrove Tuesday people used to make long bundles of straw, which they set on fire, and then ran about the fields waving them, shrieking, and singing wild songs. Finally they burned a straw-man on the field.? In the district of Düsseldorf the straw-man burned on Shrove Tuesday was made of an unthreshed sheaf of corn. On the first Monday after the spring equinox the urchins of Zurich drag a strawman on a little cart through the streets, while at the same time the girls carry about a May-tree.
When vespers ring, the straw-man is burned.4 In the district of Aachen on Ash Wednesday a man used to be encased in pcas-straw and taken to an appointed place. Here he slipped quietly out of his straw casing, which was then burned, the children thinking that it was the man who was being burned. In the Val di Ledro (Tyrol) on the last day of the Carnival a figure is made up of straw and brushwood and then burned. The figure is called the Old Woman, and the ceremony “ burning the Old Woman.”
Another occasion on which these fire-festivals are held is Easter Eve, the Saturday before Easter Sunday. On that day it has been customary in Catholic countries to extinguish all the lights in the churches, and then to make a new fire, sometimes with Alint and steel, sometimes with a burningglass. At this fire is lit the great Paschal or Easter candle, which is then used to rekindle all the extinguished lights in the church.
In many parts of Germany a bonfire is also kindled, by means of the new fire, on some open space ncar the church. It is consecrated, and the people bring sticks of oak, walnut, and beech, which they char in the fire, and then take home with them. Some of these charred sticks are thercupon burned at home in a newly-kindled fire, with a prayer that God will preserve the homestead from firc, lightning, and hail. Thus every house receives “new fire.” Some of the sticks are kept throughout the year and laid on the hearth-fire during heavy thunder-storms to prevent the 1 Schmitz, Sillon 11. Sagen des Eifler
3 B.K. p. 499. lokes, i. 20; B.X. p. 499.
" B.Kip 498 sq. ? Strackerjan, Aberglaube 11. Sagen
ó h.b. p. 499. aus dem Herzogthum Oklenburg, ii. 6 Schneller, Märchen 11. Sagen aus 39, $ 306; B.K. 498.
11'älschtirol, p. 234 9.; B.Kip 499 59.
house from being struck by lightning, or they are inserted in the roof with the like intention. Others are placed in the fields, gardens, and meadows, with a prayer that God will keep them from blight and hail. Such fields and gardens are thought to thrive more than others; the corn and the plants that grow in them are not beaten down by hail, nor devoured by mice, vermin, and beetles; no witch harms them, and the ears of corn stand close and full. The charred sticks are also applied to the plough. The ashes of the Easter bonfire, together with the ashes of the consecrated palm-branches, are mixed with the seed at sowing. A wooden figure called Judas is sometimes burned in the consecrated bonfire, and even where this custom has been abolished the bonfire itself in some places goes by the name of “the burning of Judas.” 1 Some of these customs have been transported by the Catholic Church to the New World. Thus in Mexico the new fire is struck from a flint early in the morning of Holy Saturday, and a candle which has been lighted at the sacred flame is carried through the church by a deacon shouting "Lumen Christi." Later in the day effigies of Judas, made of paper pulp, are everywhere burned or exploded, to the delight of the rabble. They are of all shapes and sizes, and in the larger towns they dangle by scores or hundreds from cords stretched across the streets. Some of them are stuffed with meat, bread, soap, clothing, and candy, for which the crowd scramble and scuffle while
1 B.K. pp. 502-505; Leoprechting, vio per lo studio delle tradizione popolari, Aus dem Lechrain, p. 172 sq. ; Bir i. (1892), p. 442 sq. The ecclesiastical linger, Volksthümliches aus Schwaben, custom of lighting the Paschal or Easter i. 472 sq. ; Montanus, Die deutsche candle is very fully described by Mr. Folksfeste, p. 26 ; Panzer, Beitrag zur H. J. Feasey, Ancient English lloly deutschen Mythologie, ii. 241 S4.,
Week Cerimonial (London, 1897), p. 533 sq.; E. Meier, Deutsche Sagen, 179 94.
These candles were someSilten und Gebräuche aus Schwairin, times of prodigious size ; in the cathe. i. 391 sq. ; Wuttke, Der deutsche Polks. drals of Norwich and Durham, for abırglaube,? p. 68 sy., § 81 ; Zingerle, example, they reached almost to the Sitten, Brünche und Meinungen des roof, from which they had to be Tiroler l'olkes,” p. 149, 88 1286-1289; lighted. Often they went by the name Bavaria, Landes. und Volkskunde des of the Judas Light or the Judas Candle : Königreichs Bayern, i. 371; W. Kolbe, and sometimes small waxen figures of Hessische Volks. Sitten und Gebräuche, Judas were hung on them. See Feasey, P. 44 599.; County Folk-lore, Leicester. op. cil. pp. 193, 213 591.
As to the shire and Rutland, collected by C. J. ritual of the new fire at St. Peter's in Billson, p. 75 sq.; A. Tiraboschi, Rome, see Chambers, Book of Days,
Usi pasquali nel Bergamasco," Archi.
the effigies are burning. Similarly in Brazil the mourning for the death of Christ ceases at noon on Easter Saturday and gives place to an extravagant burst of joy at his resurrection. Shots are fired everywhere, and effigies of Judas are hung on trees or dragged about the streets, to be finally burned or otherwise destroyed.”
But usages of this sort are not confined to the Latin Church ;
they are common to the Greek Church also. Every year on the Saturday before Easter Sunday a new fire is miraculously kindled at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It descends from heaven and ignites the candles which the patriarch holds in his hands, while with closed eyes he wrestles in prayer all alone in the chapel of the Angel. The worshippers meanwhile wait anxiously in the body of the church, and great are their transports of joy when at one of the windows of the chapel, which had been all dark a minute before, there suddenly appears the hand of an angel, or of the patriarch, holding a lighted taper. This is the sacred new fire ; it is passed out to the expectant believers, and the desperate struggle which ensues among them to get a share of its blessed influence is only terminated by the intervention of the Turkish soldiery, who restore peace and order by hustling the whole multitude impartially out of the church. At Athens the new fire is kindled in the cathedral at midnight on Holy Saturday. A dense crowd with unlit candles in their hands fills the square in front of the cathedral ; the king, the archbishop, and the highest dignitaries of the church, arrayed in their gorgeous robes, occupy a platform ; and at the presumed moment of the resurrection the bells ring out, and the whole square bursts as by magic into a blaze of light. Theoretically all the candles are lit from the sacred new fire in the cathedral, but practically it may be suspected that the matches which bcar the name of Luciser have some share in the sudden illumination. Effigics of Judas used to be burned at Athens on Easter Saturday, but the custom has been forbidden by the Government. However, firing goes on more or less continuously all over the city both on Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday, and the cartridges used on this occasion are not always blank. The shots are aimed at Judas, but sometimes they miss him and hit other people.
'F. Starr, "Holy Week in Mexico," Journal of American Folk-lori, xii. (1899), p. 164 sq.
2 K. von den Steinen, lnter den Nalurölkern Zentral - Brasiliens, p. 458 sq. ; E. Montet. Religion et
Superstition dans l'Amérique du Sud," kizue de l'histoire des Religions, xxxii. (1895), p. 145.
3 E. Cortet, Essai sur les fites rio ligieuses, pp. 137-139.
4 I have described the ceremony as
Outside of Athens the practice of burning Judas in effigy still survives in some places. For example, in Cos a straw image of the traitor is made on Easter Day, and after being hung up and shot at it is burned. A similar custom appears to prevail at Thebes. In the Armenian Church the sacred new fire is kindled not at Easter but at Candlemas, that is, on the second of February, or on the eve of that festival. The materials of the bonfire are piled in an open space near a church, and they are generally ignited by young couples who have been married within the year. However, it is the bishop or his vicar who lights the candles with which the young married pairs set fire to the pile. When the ceremony is over the people eagerly pick up charred sticks or ashes of the bonfire and preserve them at home with a sort of superstitious veneration.3
In spite of the thin cloak of Christianity thrown over these customs by representing the new fire as an emblem of Christ and the figure burned in it as an effigy of Judas, we can hardly doubt that both practices are of pagan origin. Neither of them has the authority of Christ or of his disciples; but both of them have abundant analogies in popular custom and superstition. Some instances of the practice of annually extinguishing fires and relighting them from a new and sacred I witnessed it at Athens, on April 13th, The photograph was taken at Thebes 1890. Compare Folk-lore, i. (1890), during the Easter celebration of 1891. p. 275. Ilaving been honoured, like
“ Mémoire sur le gouvernother strangers, with a place on the ment et sur la religion des anciens platform, I did not myself detect Arméniens,” Mimoires publiées par la Luciser at work among the multitude Société Royale des Antiquaires de France, below; I merely suspected his presence. ji. (1820), pp. 285-287. The writer 1 W. H. D. Rouse, “ Folklore from
tells us that the ceremony is merely a
continuation of an old heathen festival the southern Sporades,” folk-lore, x.
which was held at the beginning of (1899), p. 178.
spring in honour of the fire.god Mihr. 2 Mrs. E. A. Gardner was so kind A bonfire was made in a public place, as to send me a photograph of a and lamps kindled at it were kept bum. Theban Judas dangling from a gallows ing throughout the year in each of the and partially enveloped in smoke. fire-god's temples.