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to set up a fine May tree, adorned with all kinds of things, on St. John's Day. The people danced round it, and when the lads had fetched down the things with which it was tricked out, the tree was thrown into the water. But before this was done, they sought out somebody whom they treated in the same manner, and the victim of this horseplay was called “the John.” The brawls and disorders, which such a custom naturally provoked, led to the suppression of the whole ceremony."
But it seems possible to go farther than this. Of human sacrifices offered on these occasions the most unequivocal traces, as we have seen, are those which, about a hundred years ago, still lingered at the Beltane fires in the Highlands of Scotland, that is, among a Celtic people who, situated in a remote corner of Europe, enjoying practical independence, and almost completely isolated from foreign influence, had till then conserved their old heathenism better than any other people in the West of Europe. It is significant, therefore, that human sacrifices by firc are known, on unquestionable evidence, to have been systematically practised by the Celts. The carliest description of these sacrifices has been bequeathed to us by Julius Caesar. As conqueror of the hitherto independent Celts of Gaul, Cacsar had ample opportunity of observing the national Celtic religion and manners, while these were still fresh and crisp from the native mint and had not yet been fused in the melting-pot of Roman civilisation. With his own notes Cacsar appears to have incorporated the observations of a Greek explorer, by name Posidonius, who travelled in Gaul about fifty years before Caesar carried the Roman arms to the English Channel. The Greck geographer Strabo and the historian Diodorus scem also to have derived their descriptions of the Celtic sacrifices from the work of losidonius, but independently of each other and of Caesar, for cach of the three derivative accounts contains soine details which are not to be found in cither of the others. By combining them, therefore, we can restore the original account of Posidonius with some certainty, and thus obtain a picture of the sacrifices offered by the Celts of Gaul at the close of the
i Köhler, loc. cit.
second century B.C. The following seem to have been the main outlines of the custom. Condemned criminals were reserved by the Celts in order to be sacrificed to the gods at a great festival which took place once in every The more there were of such victims, the greater was believed to be the fertility of the land." If there were not enough criminals to furnish victims, captives taken in war were immolated to supply the deficiency. When the time came the victims were sacrificed by the Druids or priests. Some they shot down with arrows, some they impaled, and some they burned alive in the following manner. Colossal images of wicker-work or of wood and grass were constructed; these were filled with live men, cattle, and animals of other kinds ; fire was then applied to the images, and they were burned with their living contents.
Such were the great festivals held once every five years. But besides these quinquennial festivals, celebrated on so grand a scale and with, apparently, so large an expenditure of human life, it seems reasonable to suppose that festivals of the same sort, only on a lesser scale, were held annually, and that from these annual festivals arc lineally descended some at least of the fire-festivals which, with their traces of human sacrifices, are still celebrated year by year in many parts of Europe. The gigantic images constructed of osiers or covered with grass in which the Druids enclosed their victims remind us of the leafy framework in which the human representative of the tree-spirit is still so often encased." Considering, therefore, that the fertility of the land was apparently supposed to depend upon the due performance of these sacrifices, Mannhardt is probably right in viewing the Celtic victims, cased in osiers and grass, as representatives of the tree-spirit or spirit of vegetation. These wicker giants of thc Druids seem to have had till lately their representatives at the spring and midsummer festivals of modern Europe. At Douay, down to the early part of the nineteenth century, a procession took place annually on the Sunday
1 Caesar, Bell. Gall. vi. 15; Strabo, επετέτρεπτο δικάζειν, όταν τε φορά τουiv. 4. 5; Diodorus, v. 32. See Mann- των ή, φοράν και της χώρας νομίζουσιν hardt, B.ki p. 525 599.
υπάρχειν. . On this passage see Mann? Strabo, iv. 4. 4: tas od povixàs
hardt, B.Kip. 529 599. dixas mállota TOÚTO'S [i.c. the Druids)
3 See vol. i. p. 209 sqq.
nearest to the seventh of July. The great feature of the procession was a colossal figure, some twenty or thirty feet high, made of osiers, and called “the giant,” which was moved through the streets by means of rollers and ropes worked by men who were enclosed within the effigy. The wooden head of the giant is said to have been carved and painted by Rubens. The figure was armed as a knight with lance and sword, helmet and shield. Behind him marched his wife and his three children, all constructed of osiers on the same principle, but on a smaller scale. At Dunkirk the procession of the giants took place on Midsummer Day, the twenty-fourth of June. The festival, which was known as the Follies of Dunkirk, attracted such multitudes of spectators, that the inns and private houses could not lodge them all, and many had to sleep in cellars or in the streets, In 1755 an eye-witness estimated that the number of onlookers was not less than forty thousand, without counting the inhabitants of the town. The streets through which the procession took its way were lined with double ranks of soldiers, and the houses crammed with spectators from top to bottom. High mass was celebrated in the principal church and then the procession got under weigh. First came the guilds or brotherhoods, the members walking two and two with great waxen tapers, lighted, in their hands. They were followed by the friars and the secular priests, and then came the Abbot, magnificently attired, with the Host borne before him by a venerable old man. When these were past, the real "Follics of Dunkirk” began. They consisted of pagcants of various sorts whecled through the streets
These appear to have varicd somewhat from ycar to year; but if we may judge from the processions of 1755 and 1757, both of which have been described by cyc-witnesses, a standing show was a car docked with foliage and branches to imitate a wood, and carrying a number of men dressed in
leaves or in green scaly skins, who squirted water on the people from pewter syringes. An English spectator has compared these maskers to the Green Men of our own country on May Day. Last of all came the giant and giantess. The giant was a huge figure of wicker-work, occasionally as much as forty-five feet high, dressed in a long blue robe with gold stripes, which reached to his feet, concealing the dozen or more men who made it dance and bob its head to the spectators. This colossal effigy went by the name of Papa Reuss, and carried in its pocket a bouncing infant of Brobdingnagian proportions, who kept bawling “Papa ! papa !” in a voice of thunder, only pausing from time to time to devour the victuals which were handed out to him from the windows. The rear was brought up by the daughter of the giant, constructed, like her sire, of wicker-work, and little, if at all, inferior to him in size. She wore a rose-coloured robe, with a gold watch as large as a warming pan at her side : her breast glittered with jewels; her complexion was high, and her eyes and head turned with as easy a grace as the men inside could contrive to impart to their motions. The procession came to an end with the revolution of 1789, and has never been revived. The giant himself indeed, who had won the affections of the townspeople, survived his ancient glory for a little while and made shift to appear in public a few times more at the Carnival and other festal occasions ; but his days were numbered, and within fifty years even his memory had seemingly perished.
Most towns and even villages of Brabant and Flanders have, or used to have, similar wicker giants which were annually led about to the delight of the populace, who loved these grotesque figures, spoke of them with patriotic enthusiasm, and never wearicd of gazing at them. The name by which the giants went was Reuzes, and a special song called the Rcuze song was sung in the Flemish dialect
1 The Gentleman's Magisini, xxix. Surrey of the Antiquities of Ilinikilir, (1759), pp. 263-265; Madume Clément, i. 8 sy. ; Brand, l'opular intiquitiei, llistoire des fites civiles it religieuses i. 325 sq. ; James Logan, The Scottish che il pertement du Nord," Pp. 169-175; Gail, ii. 358 (new edition). Accorila De Nore, Coutumis, Ilvthis ct Trani. ing to the writer in The Gentleman's tions dis Proi'incos de France, pp. 328. 1.gazine the name of the procession 332. Compare John Milner, The was the Cor-mass. History, Cizil and Ecclesiastical, and
while they were making their triumphal progress through the streets. The most celebrated of these monstrous effigies were those of Anvers and Wetteren. At Ypres a whole family of giants contributed to the public hilarity at the Carnival. At Cassel and Hazebrouch, in the French department of Nord, the giants made their annual appearance on Shrove Tuesday:1 In England artificial giants seem to have been a standing feature of the midsummer festival. A writer of the sixteenth century speaks of “Midsommer pageants in London, where, to make the people wonder, are set forth great and uglie gyants, marching as if they were alive, and armed at all points, but within they are stuffed full of browne paper and tow, which the shrewd boyes, underpeeping, do guilefully discover, and turne to a greate derision.” 2 The Mayor of Chester in 1599 "altered many antient customs, as the shooting for the sheriff's breakfast; the going of the giants at Midsommer, etc." 3
In these cases the giants only figure in the processions. But sometimes they were burned in the summer bonfires. Thus the people of the Rue aux Ours in Paris used annually to make a great wicker-work figure, dressed as a soldier, which they promenaded up and down the streets for several day's, and solemnly burned on the third of July, the crowd of spectators singing Salve Regina. A personage who bore the title of king presided over the ceremony with a lighted torch in his hand.
The burning fragments of the image were scattered among the people, who eagerly scrambled for them. The custom was abolished in 1743. In Bric, Isle de France, a wicker-work giant, cightcen feet high, was annually burned on Midsummer Eve.
Again, the Druidical custom of burning live animals, cnclosed in wicker-work, has its counterpart at the spring and midsummer festivals. At Luchon in the Pyrences on Mid
i Madame Clément, Histoiri dis 1589. p. 128, quoted by Brand, l'opular fites civiles et religiinses, cic. c l Bila Intiquities, i. 323. sique moridional, iti. (.tresnes, 1846), 3 King's l'ali kral of ind, p. P: 252; Reinsberg. Durin felii, Calin. 208, quotcil by lírand, l... dri'r Belgi', pp. 123-126.
+ Liebrecht, Cirrusius ten Tilburg', conjecture that the Flemish Airn, like P. 212 59.; De lore, Coutumes, the Rouss of Dunkirk, is only another Irohes, at Pralitions des Pronunci's ide form of the German krisi; “viani." Trani, p. 354:07. : R.K. p. 514.
: Puttenham, -Irti of Enisi luesii, 5 l.kipp: 514, 52;.