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1 in A.S COCA AND AIA RE 269
By keeping its feathers till spring, then mixing them with the seed-corn taken from the very sheaf in which the bird had been bound, and scattering the feathers together with the seed over the field, the identity of the bird with the corn is again emphasised, and its quickening and fertilising power, as the corn-spirit, is intimated in the plainest manner. Thus the corn-spirit, in the form of a cock, is killed at harvest, but rises to fresh life and activity in spring. Again, the equivalence of the cock to the corn is expressed, hardly less plainly, in the custom of burying the bird in the ground, and cutting off its head (like the ears of corn) with the scythe. Another common embodiment of the corn-spirit is the hare." In Galloway the reaping of the last standing corn is called “cutting the Hare.” The mode of cutting it is as follows. When the rest of the corn has been reaped, a handful is left standing to form the Hare. It is divided into three parts and plaited, and the ears are tied in a knot. The reapers then retire a few yards and each throws his or her sickle in turn at the Hare to cut it down. It must be cut below the knot, and the reapers continue to throw their sickles at it, one after the other, until one of them succeeds in severing the stalks below the knot. The Hare is then carried home and given to a maidservant in the kitchen, who places it over the kitchen-door on the inside. Sometimes the Hare used to be thus kept till the next harvest. In the parish of Minnigaff, when the Hare was cut, the unmarried reapers ran home with all speed, and the one who arrived first was the first to be married.” In Southern Ayrshire the last corn cut is also called the Hare, and the mode of cutting it seems to be the same as in Galloway; at least in the neighbourhood of Kilmarnock the last corn left standing in the middle of the field is plaited, and the reapers used to try to cut it by throwing their sickles at it. When cut, it was carried home and hung up over the door.” In the Vosges the person who cuts the last handful of hay or wheat is said to have caught the Hare ; he is congratulated by his
* Die Korndamomen, p. 1. Report of the British Association for 1896, p. 623. * W. Gregor, “Preliminary Report * Folk-lore /ournal, vii. (1889), p. 47 on Folklore in Galloway, Scotland,” sq.
comrades and has the honour of carrying the nosegay or the
1 Sauvé, Folk-lore des Hautes-Vosges,
und Gebräuche unter den Sachsen Sie-
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.”" 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
goat has pushed him,” “he has been pushed by the Corngoat.”* 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 fields 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.” 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.” 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. * Panzer, op.cit. ii. p. 228 sq., § 422; * Ibid. p. 161 sq. A. W. F. p. 163; Bavaria, Landes* Ibid. p. 162. und Volkskunde des Aenigreichs Bayern, * Panzer, Beitrag zur deutschen iii. 344. Mythologie, ii. p. 232 sq., § 426; * A. W.F. p. 163.
A. W. F. p. 162. * Ibid. p. 164.
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 crosters 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 1 A. W. F. p. 164. * Ibid. p. 164 sq. * Ibid. p. 165. * Brand, Popular Antiquities, ii. 24, Bohn's ed. ; A. W.F. p. 165. WOL. II T