Billeder på siden

comrades and has the honour of carrying the nosegay or the small fir-tree decorated with ribbons which marks the conclusion of the harvest. In Germany also one of the names for the last sheaf is the Hare.? Thus in some parts of Anhalt, when the corn has been reaped and only a few stalks are left standing, they say, “ The Hare will soon come,” or the reapers cry to each other, “ Look how the Hare comes jumping out.”In East Prussia they say that the Hare sits in the last patch of standing corn, and must be chased out by the last reaper.

The reapers hurry with their work, each being anxious not to have “to chase out the Hare”; for the man who does so, that is, who cuts the last corn, is much laughed at. At Birk, in Transylvania, when the reapers come to the last patch, they cry out, “We have the Hare." 5

At Aurich, as we have seen, an expression for cutting the last corn is "to cut off the Hare's tail.” “He is killing the Hare" is commonly said of the man who cuts the last corn in Germany, Sweden, Holland, France, and Italy.' In Norway the man who is thus said to " kill the Hare” must give “hare's blood,” in the form of brandy, to his fellows to drink.” In Lesbos when the reapers are at work in two neighbouring fields, each party tries to finish first in order to drive the Hare into their neighbour's field ; the reapers who succeed in doing so believe that next year the crop will be better. A small sheaf of corn is made up and kept beside the holy picture till next harvest.

Again, the corn-spirit sometimes takes the form of a cat.10 Near Kiel children are warned not to go into the corn-fields because " the Cat sits there." In the Eisenach Oberland they are told “the Corn-cat will come and fetch you,” “the Corncat goes in the corn.” In some parts of Silesia at mowing


i Sauvé, Folk-lore des Hautes-Vosges, p. 191.

2 W. Mannhardt, Die Korndämonen, p. 3.

3 O. Hartung, “ Zur Volkskunde aus Anhalt,” Zeitschrift des Vereins für Volkskunde, vii. (1897), p. 154.

4 Lemke, Volksthümliches in Ost. preussen, i. 24.

6 G. A. Heinrich, Agrarische Sitten

und Gebräuche unter den Sachsen Sie.
benbürgens, p. 21.

6 Above, p. 260 sq.
7 M.F. p. 29.

8 Ibid. p. 29 sq.; Die Korndamonen, p. 5.

9 Georgeakis et Pineau, Folk-lore de Lesbos (Paris, 1894), p. 310.

10 A.W.F. pp. 172-174; M.F. p. 30 ; Sauvé, Folk-lore des Hautes-Vosges, p. 191.

the last corn they say, “ The Cat is caught "; and at threshing, the man who gives the last stroke is called the Cat. In the neighbourhood of Lyons the last sheaf and the harvestsupper are both called the Cat.

About Vesoul when they cut the last corn they say, “We have the Cat by the tail.” At Briançon, in Dauphiné, at the beginning of reaping, a cat is decked out with ribbons, flowers, and ears of corn. It is called the Cat of the ball-skin (le chat de peau de balle). If a reaper is wounded at his work, they make the cat lick the wound. At the close of the reaping the cat is again decked out with ribbons and ears of corn; then they dance and make merry.

When the dance is over the girls solemnly strip the cat of its finery. At Grüneberg, in Silesia, the reaper who cuts the last corn goes by the name of the Tom-cat. He is enveloped in rye-stalks and green withes, and is furnished with a long plaited tail. Sometimes as a companion he has a man similarly dressed, who is called the (female) Cat. Their duty is to run after people whom they see and beat them with a long stick. Near Amiens the expression for finishing the harvest is, “ They are going to kill the Cat”; and when the last corn is cut they kill a cat in the farmyard. At threshing, in some parts of France, a live cat is placed under the last bundle of corn to be threshed, and is struck dead with the flails. Then on Sunday it is roasted and eaten as a holiday dish.

Further, the corn-spirit often appears in the form of a goat. In some parts of Prussia, when the corn bends before the wind, they say, “The Goats are chasing each other," “the wind is driving the Goats through the corn,” “the Goats are browsing there," and they expect a very good harvest. Again they say, “ The Oats-goat is sitting in the oats-field,” “the Corn-goat is sitting in the rye-field.” 1 Children are warned not to go into the corn-fields to pluck the blue corn-flowers, or amongst the beans to pluck pods, because the Rye-goat, the Corn-goat, the Oats-goat, or the Bean-goat is sitting or lying there, and will carry them away or kill them? When a harvester is taken sick or lags behind his fellows at their work, they call out, “ The Harvest

1 W. Mannhardt, 1.W.F. p. 155 sq.

2 Ibid. p. 157 sq.

goat.” 1

goat has pushed him," "he has been pushed by the Corn

In the neighbourhood of Braunsberg (East Prussia) at binding the oats every harvester makes haste “lest the Corn-goat push him.” At Oefoten, in Norway, each harvester has his allotted patch to reap. When a harvester in the middle has not finished reaping his piece after his neighbours have finished theirs, they say of him, “He remains on the island." And if the laggard is a man, they imitate the cry with which they call a he-goat; if a woman, the cry with which they call a she-goat. Near Straubing, in Lower Bavaria, it is said of the man who cuts the last corn that “he has the Corngoat or the Wheat-goat, or the Oats-goat,” according to the crop. Moreover, two horns are set up on the last heap of corn, and it is called "the horned Goat." At Kreutzburg, East Prussia, they call out to the woman who is binding the last sheaf, “ The Goat is sitting in the sheaf.”$ At Gablingen, in Swabia, when the last field of oats upon a farm is being reaped, the reapers carve a goat out of wood. Ears of oats are inserted in its nostrils and mouth, and it is adorned with garlands of flowers. It is set upon the field and called the Oats-goat. When the reaping approaches an end, each reaper hastens to finish his piece first; he who is the last to finish gets the Oats-goat. Again, the last sheaf is itself called the Goat. Thus, in the valley of the Wiesent, Bavaria, the last sheaf bound on the field is called the Goat, and they have a proverb, “The field must bear a goat.” 6 At Spachbrücken, in Hesse, the last handful of corn which is cut is called the Goat, and the man who cuts it is much ridiculed. Sometimes the last sheaf is made up in the form of a goat, and they say, “ The Goat is sitting in it.”7 Again, the person who cuts or binds the last sheaf is called the Goat. Thus, in parts of Mecklenburg they call out to the woman who binds the last sheaf, “You are the Harvest-goat." Near Uelzen, in Hanover, the harvest festival begins with “the bringing of the Harvest-goat"; that

1 W. Mannhardt, A.W.F. p. 159.
2 Ibid. p. 161 sq.
3 Ibid. p. 162.

4 Panzer, Beitrag cur deutschen Mythologie, i. p. 232 sq., S 426 ; A.W.F. p. 162.

6 Panzer, op.cit. i. p. 228 sq., § 422; A.W.F. p. 163; Bavaria, Landes. und Volkskunde des Königreichs Bayern,

jii. 344.

6 A.W.F. p. 163.
7 Ibid. p. 164.

[ocr errors]

is, the woman who bound the last sheaf is wrapt in straw, crowned with a harvest-wreath, and brought in a wheelbarrow to the village, where a round dance takes place. About Luneburg, also, the woman who binds the last corn is decked with a crown of corn-ears and is called the Corngoat. In the Canton St. Gall, Switzerland, the person who cuts the last handful of corn on the field, or drives the last harvest-waggon to the barn, is called the Corn-goat or the Rye-goat, or simply the Goat. In the Canton Thurgau he is called Corn-goat; like a goat he has a bell hung round his neck, is led in triumph, and drenched with liquor. In parts of Styria, also, the man who cuts the last corn is called Corn-goat, Oats-goat, or the like. As a rule, the man who thus gets the name of Corn-goat has to bear it a whole year till the next harvest.

According to one view, the corn-spirit, who has been caught in the form of a goat or otherwise, lives in the farmhouse or barn over winter. Thus, each farm has its own embodiment of the corn-spirit. But, according to another view, the corn-spirit is the genius or deity, not of the corn of one farm only, but of all the corn. Hence when the corn on one farm is all cut, he flees to another where there is still corn left standing. This idea is brought out in a harvestcustom which was formerly observed in Skye. The farmer who first finished reaping sent a man or woman with a sheaf to a neighbouring farmer who had not finished; the latter in his turn, when he had finished, sent on the sheaf to his neighbour who was still reaping; and so the sheaf made the round of the farms till all the corn was cut. The sheaf was called the goabbir bhacagh, that is, the Cripple Goat.* The custom appears not to be extinct at the present day, for it was reported from Skye only a few years ago.

We are told that when the crofters and small farmers are cutting down their corn, each tries his best to finish before his neighbour. The first to finish goes to his neighbour's field and makes up at one end of it a bundle of sheaves in a fanciful shape which goes by the name of the gobhar bhacach or Lame Goat. As each man in succession finishes reaping A.W.F

2 Ibid. p. 164 sq.

3 Ibid. p. 165.
4 Brand, Popular Antiquities, ii. 24, Bohn's ed. ; A.W.F. p. 165.



his field, he proceeds to set up a lame goat of this sort in his neighbour's field where there is still corn standing. No one likes to have the Lame Goat put in his field, “not from any ill-luck it brings, but because it is humiliating to have it standing there visible to all neighbours and passers-by, and of course he cannot retaliate.” The corn-spirit was probably thus represented as lame because he had been crippled by the cutting of the corn. We have seen that sometimes the old woman who brings home the last sheaf must limp on one foot.2

In the Böhmer Wald mountains, between Bohemia and Bavaria, when two peasants are driving home their corn together, they race against each other to see who shall get home first. The village boys mark the loser in the race, and at night they come and erect on the roof of his house the Oats-goat, which is a colossal figure of a goat made of straw.8

But sometimes the corn-spirit, in the form of a goat, is believed to be slain on the harvest-field by the sickle or scythe. Thus, in the neighbourhood of Bernkastel, on the Moselle, the reapers determine by lot the order in which they shall follow each other. The first is called the fore-reaper, the last the tail-bearer. If a reaper overtakes the man in front he reaps past him, bending round so as to leave the slower reaper in a patch by himself. This patch is called the Goat; and the man for whom “the Goat is cut" in this way, is laughed and jeered at by his fellows for the rest of the day. When the tail-bearer cuts the last ears of corn, it is said, “He is cutting the Goat's neck off." 4 In the neighbourhood of Grenoble, before the end of the reaping, a live goat is adorned with flowers and ribbons and allowed to run about the field. The reapers chase it and try to catch it. When it is caught, the farmer's wife holds it fast while the farmer cuts off its head. The goat's flesh serves to furnish the harvest-supper. A piece of the flesh is pickled and kept till the next harvest, when another goat is killed. Then all the harvesters eat of the flesh. On the same day the skin of

1 R. C. Maclagan, “Notes on folk. lore objects collected in Argyleshire,” Folk-lore, vi. (1895), p. 151, from infor. mation given by Mrs. C. Nicholson.

2 Above, p. 236.
3 A.W.F. p. 165.
4 Ibid. p. 166; M.F. p. 185.

« ForrigeFortsæt »