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bourhood of Magdeburg the men and women servants strive who shall get the last sheaf, called the Grandmother. Whoever gets it will be married in the next year, but his or her spouse will be old ; if a girl gets it, she will marry a widower; if a man gets it, he will marry an old crone. In Silesia the Grandmother—a huge bundle made up of three or four sheaves by the person who tied the last sheaf-was formerly fashioned into a rude likeness of the human form.' In the neighbourhood of Belfast the last sheaf sometimes goes by the name of the Granny. It is not cut in the usual way, but all the reapers throw their sickles at it and try to bring it down. It is plaited and kept till the (next?) autumn. Whoever gets it will marry in the course of the year.” Oftener the last sheaf is called the Old Woman or the Old Man. In Germany it is frequently shaped and dressed as a woman, and the person who cuts it or binds it is said to “get the Old Woman.” At Altisheim, in Swabia, when all the corn of a farm has been cut except a single strip, all the reapers stand in a row before the strip ; each cuts his share rapidly, and he who gives the last cut “has the Old Woman.” When the sheaves are being set up in heaps, the person who gets hold of the Old Woman, which is the largest and thickest of all the sheaves, is jeered at by the rest, who sing out to him, “He has the Old Woman and must keep her.” The woman who binds the last sheaf is sometimes herself called the Old Woman, and it is said that she will be married in the next year.” In Neusaass, West Prussia, both the last sheaf-which is dressed up in jacket, hat, and ribbons—and the woman who binds it are called the Old Woman. Together they are brought home on the last waggon and are drenched with water." At Hornkampe, near Tiegenhof (West Prussia), when a man or woman lags behind the rest in binding the corn, the other reapers dress up the last sheaf in the form of a man or woman, and this figure goes by the laggard's name, as “the old Michael,” “the idle Trine.” It is brought home on the
deutschen .1/ythologie, ii. p. 219, § 403. * W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 325.
* /bid. pp. 321, 323, 325 so. * Ibid. p. 323. 7 /bia.
* /hid. p. 32 1.
last waggon, and, as it nears the house, the bystanders call out to the laggard, “You have got the Old Woman and must keep her.” In Brandenburg the young folks on the harvest - field race towards a sheaf and jump over it. The last to jump over it has to carry a straw puppet, adorned with ribbons, to the farmer and deliver it to him while he recites some verses. Of the person who thus carries the puppet it is said that “he has the Old Man.” Probably the puppet is or used to be made out of the last corn cut.” In many districts of Saxony the last sheaf used to be adorned with ribbons and set upright so as to look like a man. It was then known as “the Old Man,” and the young women brought it back in procession to the farm, singing as they went, “Now we are bringing the Old Man.”” In these customs, as Mannhardt has remarked, the person who is called by the same name as the last sheaf and sits beside it on the last waggon is obviously identified with it; he or she represents the corn-spirit which has been caught in the last sheaf; in other words, the corn-spirit is represented in duplicate, by a human being and by a sheaf." The identification of the person with the sheaf is made still clearer by the custom of wrapping up in the last sheaf the person who cuts or binds it. Thus at Hermsdorf in Silesia it used to be the regular custom to tie up in the last sheaf the woman who had bound it.” At Weiden, in Bavaria, it is the cutter, not the binder, of the last sheaf who is tied up in it." Here the person wrapt up in the corn represents the corn-spirit, exactly as a person wrapt in branches or leaves represents the tree-spirit." The last sheaf, designated as the Old Woman, is often distinguished from the other sheaves by its size and weight. Thus in some villages of West Prussia the Old Woman is made twice as long and thick as a common sheaf, and a stone is fastened in the middle of it. Sometimes it is made
* W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 323 sq. * K. Haupt, Sayenbuch der Lausitz, i. p. 233, No. 277 note. * H. Prahn, “ Glaube und Brauch * W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 324. in der Mark Brandenburg,” Zeitschrift * /bid. p. 320. des I ereins fur Volkskunde, i. (1891), * /hid. p. 325. p. 186 sq. * See vol. i. p. 209 sy.
so heavy that a man can barely lift it." At Alt-Pillau,
W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 324. nothing as to the shape or name of the * Ibid. p. 32.4 sq. sheaf.
* Ibid. p. 325. The author of Die gestriegelte Workenfhilosophie mentions (p. 891) the German superstition that the last sheaf should be made large in order that all the sheaves next year may be of the same size ; but he says
* Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 327.
* Ibid. p. 328.
" Jamieson, Dictionary of the Scottish Zanguage, s.r. “Maiden”; W. Mannhardt, J/r/hol. Forschungen, p. 326.
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crofts beside each other, there is always great rivalry as to who shall first finish reaping, and so have the Old Wife before his neighbours. Some people even go out on a clear night to reap their fields after their neighbours have retired to rest, in order that they may have the Old Wife first. More neighbourly habits, however, usually prevail, and as each finishes his own fields he goes to the help of another, till the whole crop is cut. The reaping is still done with the sickle. When the corn has been cut on all the crofts, the last sheaf is dressed up to look as like an old woman as possible. She wears a white cap, a dress, an apron, and a little shawl over the shoulders fastened with a sprig of heather. The apron is tucked up to form a pocket, which is stuffed with bread and cheese. A sickle, stuck in the string of the apron at the back, completes her equipment. This costume and outfit mean that the Old Wife is ready to bear a hand in the work of harvesting. At the feast which follows, the Old Wife is placed at the head of the table, and as the whisky goes round each of the company drinks to her, saying, “Here's to the one that has helped us with the harvest.” When the table has been cleared away and dancing begins, one of the lads leads out the Old Wife and dances with her; and if the night is fine the party will sometimes go out and march in a body to a considerable distance, singing harvest-songs, while one of them carries the Old Wife on his back. When the Harvest-Home is over, the Old Wife is shorn of her gear and used for ordinary purposes." In the island of Islay the last corn cut also goes by the name of the Old Wife (Cailleach), and when she has done her duty at harvest she is hung up on the wall and stays there till the time comes to plough the fields for the next year's crop. Then she is taken down, and on the first day the men go to plough she is divided among them by the mistress of the house. They take her in their pockets and give her to the horses to eat when they reach the field. This is supposed to secure good luck for the next harvest, and is understood to be the proper end of the Old Wife.” In Kintyre also the name of the Old Wife is given to the last * R. C. Maclagan, “Notes on folk- Folk-lore, vi. (1895), p. 149 sq. lore objects collected in Argyleshire,” * R. C. Maclagan, op. cit. p. 151. VOL. II N
corn cut." On the shores of the beautiful Loch Awe, a long sheet of water, winding among soft green hills, above which the giant Ben Cruachan towers bold and rugged on the north, the harvest custom is somewhat different. The name of the Old Wife (Cailleach) is here bestowed, not on the last corn cut, but on the reaper who is the last to finish. He bears it as a term of reproach, and is not privileged to reap the last ears left standing. On the contrary these are cut by the reaper who was the first to finish his spagh or strip (literally “claw"), and out of them is fashioned the Maiden, which is afterwards hung up, according to one statement, “for the purpose of preventing the death of horses in spring.”.” In Caithness the person who cuts the last sheaf is called Winter and retains the name till the next harvest.” In North Pembrokeshire a tuft of the last corn cut, from six to twelve inches long, is plaited and goes by the name of the Hag (wrach); and quaint old customs used to be practised with it within the memory of many persons still alive. Great was the excitement among the reapers when the last patch of standing corn was reached. All in turn threw. their sickles at it, and the one who succeeded in cutting it received a jug of home-brewed ale. The Hag (wrach) was then hurriedly made and taken to a neighbouring farm, where the reapers were still busy at their work. This was generally done by the ploughman; but he had to be very careful not to be observed by his neighbours, for if they saw him coming and had the least suspicion of his errand they would soon make him retrace his steps. Creeping stealthily up behind a fence he waited till the foreman of his neighbour's reapers was just opposite him and within easy reach. Then he suddenly threw the Hag over the fence and, if possible, upon the foreman's sickle, crying out
On that he took to his heels and made off as fast as he could run, and he was a lucky man if he escaped without
* R. C. Maclagan, op. cit. p. 149. * J. Macdonald, Aeligion and Myth, * Ibid. p. 151 sq. p. 141.