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The reason why the shamrock is worn by times, and years; wnich pa sage St. Austin the Irish on St. Patrick's Day (March 17), thus explains :-is thus, though not satisfactorily, assigned by 6. The persons the apostle blames are those Brand : “ When the saint preached the who say, I will not set forward on my Gospel to the pagan Irish, he illustrated the journey because it is the next day after such doctrine of the Trinity by showing them a a time, or because the moon is so: or I'll set trefoil, or three-leaved grass, with one stalk: forward that I may have luck, because such this operating to their conviction, the sham- is just now the position of the stars. I will rock, which is a bundle of this grass, was not traffic this month, because such a star ever afterwards worn upon this saint's anni- presides, or I will, because it does. I shall versary, to commemorate the event.”
plani no vines this year, because it is Leap The feast of the Annunciation (March Year, &c.'” 25th), celebrates, in the Christian world, the The three last days of March, O. S., have message of the angel to the Virgin Mary: been denominated Borrowing, or Borrowed hence it is called Lady Day, and tenures, in Days. Being generally stormy, our ancessome countries, are chiefly held from this and tors attempted to account for the circum. Michaelmas Day.
stance, by pretending, that March borrowed The last three days of March, are, by the them from April, that he might extend his superstitious, still deemed unlucky; nor is it power so much the longer. the only case with us of observing one day as
“ March borrowit fra Averill bad, and another as good. Friday, for
Thiee days and they were ill." example, in the calendar of superstition, is a day of ill omen, on which no new work or They who are very superstitious, will enterprise must be commenced. From this neither borrow nor lend on any of those days, cause, marriages seldom take place on it. and if any one should propose to borrow from It is singular that the same feeling prevails them, they would esteem it an evidence that amongst the Birmans—" on this day no the person wished to employ the article borbusiness must be commenced.”'
rowed for the purposes of witchcraft against
the lender. “ Friday's moon,
With the Scotch Highlanders, the same Come when it will it comes too soon."
idea of the borrowing days is commonly reSaturday has been considered equally in- ceived, with this difference, that the days are auspicious. “ Certane craftis men--will considerably antedated, and the loan is renocht begin thair warke on the Satterday, versed. With them, the Faiolteach, or three certane schipmen or marinars will nocht first days of February, serve many poetical purbegin to sail on the Satterday, certainetrauelars poses. They are said to have been borrowed will nocht begin thair iornay ou the Satter- for some purpose by February from January, day, quhilk is plane superstition, because who was bribed by February with three that God Almychty made the Satterday as
young sheep. These three days, by Highland well as he made all other dayis of the reckoning, occur between the 11th and 14th wouke.”+
of February, and it is accounted a most This superstition is antique and ethnical. favourable prognostic for the ensuing year, It was common amongst the Greeks, and so that they should be as stormy as possible. many distinctions were made between
If they should be fair, then there is no more ticular days, that it was a matter of impor- good weather to be expected through the tance αισυσθαι της ημερας-to obsere the spring. days. Hesiod refers to this custom
The custom of sending individuals on a
Fool's errand, on the first of April, or All Αλλοτε μητρυιη πελει η μερα αλλοτε μητής: Fools Day, is general. The French have “ Some days, like su'ly stepdamex, adverse prove,
their Poisson d'avril; and in the North of Thwartour intentioas, cross what e'er we love;
England and Scotland, they have their April Others more fortunate and lucky shine,
Gowks, who are said to have been sent on a And, as a tender mother, bless what we design." Gowk's errand. All these terms signify that The practice was also common in other
an individual has been intentionally sent from nations, and particularly amongst the Ro- place to place, on what is known to be a
Gauch in the Teut. mans, who had their dies atri, or unlucky (Germ. Geck, Sw. gaek), signifies a fool ; days—was adopted by the early Christians hence the words Gowk and Gauky. Jamieson, froin thein, and continued, with modifications, until our own times. St Paul, in his Epistle however, thinks that the expression, a Gowk's to the Galatians (iv. 10.), reproves the Gala, does not originate immediately from Gowk, a
errand, although equivalent to a Fool'serrand, tians for observing days, and months, and
foolish person, but from the cuckoo, which, in * Dr. Buchanan, in Asiatic Researı hes, vol.
Scotland, bears that name. " Young people,". vi. 172
he remarks, "attracted by the singular cry of + Abp. Hamiltown's Catechisine, 1551, fol. 22. 6. quoted by Jamieson.
* Grini's Sups.titions of the Highlanders, vol. Potter's Archeologia Græca, vol. i. c. 17. ii. p. 217.
the cuckoo, being anxious to see it, are often åre said to have actually died by their imavery assiduous to obtain their gratification. ginary fears on this occasion. But, as this bird changes its place so secretly Another superstition, also of the north of and suddenly—when they think they are England, is that of Ass-ridlin--the ashes bejust within reach of it, they hear it cry at a ing riddled or sifted on the hearth. Should considerable distance. Thus they run from any of the family die within the year, the place to place, still finding themselves as far mark of the shoe, it is supposed, will be imremoved from their object as ever. Hence pressed on the ashes; and many a misthe phrase, “hunt the gowk,” may have chievous wight has made some of the supercome to be used for any fruitless attempt, stitious family miserable, by slily coming and particularly for those vain errors on down stairs, after the rest of the family have which persons are sent on the 1st of April."* retired to rest, and marking the ashes with
The custom of making April fools, seems the shoe of one of the party. to be a relic of a high and general pagan fes- Pennant has also observed, that, in North tival, at which the most unbounded hilarity Wales, no farmer dare hold his team on St. prevailed; and, like many other of these pe- Mark's day, because, as they believe, “ one riodical observances, seems to have an ori- man's team was marked with the loss of an ental parentage. Colonel Pearce has proved ox, which worked on this day." that it is an immemorial custom among the A very ridiculous ceremony is likewise Hindoos, at a celebrated festival held in performed at Alnwick, in NorthumberlandMarch, called the Huli, when mirth and fes- it consists in leaping the well, or going tivity reign amongst every class, to send through a deep and noisome pool, on Alnpeople on errands and expeditions that are to wick Moor, called the Preemen’s well—a end in disappointment, and raise a laugh at sine qua non to the freedom of the borough. the expense of the person sent. The last day On St. Mark's day, the aspirants proceed in of the Huli, is the general holiday. This great state, from the town to the moor, festival is held in honour of the new year; where they draw up in a body, at some disand, as the year formerly began in Britain, tance from the water, and, on a signal being about the same time, Maurice, in his Indian given, scramble through the mud with great Antiquities, thinks that the diversions of the labour and difficulty. Tradition says, that 1st day of April, both in Britain and India, this strange and ridiculous custom, rendered had a common origin in the ancient celebra- more ludicrous by being performed in white tion of the return of the vernal equinox, with clothing, was imposed by King Jolin, who was festal rites.t
bogged in this very pond. On St. George's Day (April 23d), there The first of May, is a gala day with some seems to have been an ancient custom in of the classes of society in many countries, Britain, to decorate the statue of the patron although, like most of the other festivals of saint, but this is no longer continued; and, the calendar, it has suffered from the hand in Reed's old plays (vol. xii.), there is an al- of time. Formerly, it was the custom for all lusion to another habit, amongst people of ranks of people to go out early a Maying. fashion, of wearing blue coats on this day, Bourne tells us, that, in his time, in the vile “ probably because blue was the national co- lages in the north of England, the juvenile lour of Britain, over which St. George pre- part of both sexes were wont to rise a little sides, and not in imitation of the clothing of after midnight, and walk to some neighthe fields in blue, by the flowering of the blue bouring wood, accompanied with music, and bells, as some have supposed."-(Forster, the blowing of horns, where they broke
down branches from the trees, and adorned St. Mark's Eve (April 25th), is likewise them with nosegays and crowns of flowers. fruitful in superstitions. In the northern This done, they returned homewards, about parts of England, it is usual for the common the time of sunrise, and decked their doors people to sit and watch in the church porch, and windows with the spoil. At an early pefrom eleven o'clock at night, till one in the riod, this custom was observed by royal and morning. On the third year, for this must noble personages, as well as by the vulgar. be done thrice, it is supposed they will see In Chaucer's Court of Love, we read, that the ghosts of all those who are to die the early on Mayday, “ fourth goth al the next year pass by into the church. V.'ben court, both most and lest, to fetche the flouris any one sickens, who is thought to have fresh, and braunch and blome." It was of been seen in this manner, it is presently old also the Milk Maia's festival, and is still whispered about that he will not recover, for so, in some of the rural parts of England that such a one, who has watched St. Mark's the milk maids, on this day, going about eve, says so. This superstition is in such with their garlands and music and dancing ; force, that, if the patients themselves hear of but this is a very imperfect shadow of the it, they almost despair of recovery. Many original sports, for Maypoles were set up in
the streets, with various martial shows, MorEtymological Dictionary, Art. Gowk's errand. ris dancing, and other devices with which, + Asiatic Researches, ii. 334.
and revelling and good cheer, the day was VOL. I.
passed away. At night they rejoiced and thee, O cagle!” When the ceremony is over, lighted up bonfires. This Maypole was ge- they dine on the caudle, and, after the feasc nerally placed in some convenient part of is finished, what is left is hid by two persons every village, and stood, as it were, conse- deputed for that purpose ; but, on the next crated to the Goddess of Flowers, without Sunday, they reassemble, and finish the relics the least violation offered to it, in the whole of the first entertainment." circle of the year.
This feast bears a striking resemblance to · Mayday is also, in London, the chimney, the Palilia, a feast celebrated by the ancient sweepers' holiday : when they decorate them- Romans, on the 21st of April, in honour of selves with flowers, ribands, and tinsel, and Pales, the goddess of shepherds; or, accorddance in the streets. This practice, Dr. ing to some, in honour of the progress of the Forster thinks, is likely to become obsolete, sun.(Ovid, Fastor. iv. 794.)
as infant chimney-sweepers are going out Ovid informs us, in the same book, that of fashion, from the excessive cruelty neces- they who observed the Palilia, kindled fires, sary to be used in training them to climb as the Scotch herdsmen do on Beltane day, the flues, and from the adoption of a ma- and leapt over them. chine to supersede the use of climbing children.” (p. 211.) Of late, the march of in- “ Certe ego transilui positas ter in ordine flammas."
Ovid. tellect has been a fruitful topic of speculation; and many are the anecdotes, taken A large cake, too, was prepared for Pales from the more humble departments of so
** Et nos faciamus ad annum ciety, which have been adduced to prove it. Pastorum domine grandia liba Pali."-16. We know of none, however, which might have been so triumphantly cited, had it oc
The Romans had also a beverage, somecurred recently, as the one mentioned by the what resembling the caudle: they were to well-known Jonas Hanway, who, on inquir- drink milk and the purple sapa, which, acing of a chimney-sweeper's boy, on a May- cording to Pliny, is a new wine, boiled till morning, why he was not enjoying himself, only a third part remains : like the rest of his fraternity, received the unexpected reply—“ because master says it
* Tum licet, apposita velnti cratere camella
Lac niveum potes, purpureamque sapam."-1b. an't genteel !" Such a revolution of sentiment as this must be general, before we can
The name Beltein, is, perhaps, immediexpect to arrive at the consummation calcu- ately descended from the Gaelic Bral, which lated upon by Dr. Forster.
signifies a globe; and the observance itself, These May games are doubtless ethnic in affords another instance of the connexion their origin, and a continuance of the un- between the ceremonies of the eastern, and boundedly licentious Floralia of the Romans. those of the more western nations. Bel, or
On the first of May, 0. S. a sort of festi- Belus, is the great Asiatic god; and is, in val is observed in Scotland, which is called the Punic and Assyrian, applied to the sun, Beltnne, or Beltein, and is thus described one of whose great festivals was celebrated by Pennant:
at this season. All these, Asiatic and Euro“ On the first of May, the herdsmen of pean, were probably instituted in honour of every village hold their Beltein, a rural sa- that luminary, whose return, in his apparent crifice. They cut a square trench on the annual course, was celebrated for the reasons ground, leaving the turf in the middle; on already mentioned, as well as on account of that they make a fire of wood, on which they his having such a visible influence, by his dress a large caudle of eggs, butter, oatmeal, genial warmth, on the productions of the and milk, and bring, beside the ingredients earth. That the Caledonians paid a superstiof the caudle, plenty of beer and whiskey: tious respect to the sun, is evident not only for each of the company must contribute from the sacrifice at Beltein, but upon many something. The rites begin with spilling other occasions. In Sweden, on the last day some of the caudle on the ground, by way of of April, the evening preceding the Scotch libation :
: on that, every one takes a cake of Beltein, the country people light great fires oatmeal, upon which are raised nine square
on the hills, and the first of May is likewise knobs, each dedicated to some particular be- observed. The following lines, from the seing, the supposed preserver of their flocks cond battle of Hastings, would prove that the and herds, or to some particular animal, the custom was likewise druidical." Speaking of real destroyer of them: each person then the druidical remains at Salisbury Plain and turns his face to the fire, breaks off a knob, Stonehenge, it is observed :and, flinging it over his shoulders, says “ Here did the Brutons adoration paye “ This I give to thee! preserve thou my To the false god whom they did Tauran dame, horses: this to thee, preserve thou my Dightynge hys altarre with greete fyres in Maie sheep!” and so on. After that, they use the Roastýnge their vyctualle round aboute the flame." same ceremony to the noxious animals “ This I give to thee, O fox! spare thou my * Tour in Scotland, 1769, p. 110. Jamieson's Etylambs : this to thee, O 'hooded crow! this to mological Dictionary, Art. Beltein.
The Deasil,* is one of the Highland su- Oriental as well as a Scandinavian ceremony; perstitions with regard to the sun. It means it was also formerly known in some parts of the turning from east to west, or according the north of England. In the West Riding to the course of the sun, and is a custom of Yorkshire, for example, they have the of high antiquity in religious ceremonies. expression, Banl-hills to signify hillocks on When a Highlander goes to bathe or to drink the moors where fires have formerly been, water out of a consecrated fountain, he must and several places on the borders of Craven approach by going round the place from east seem to have received their names from these to west, on the south side, in imitation of the idolntrous rites.--Hore momente Cravenæ, apparent diurnal motion of the sun. When p. 56. the dead are placed in the grave, the grave is The play of Robin Hood, was a performapproached by going round in the same man- ance in the May games, in which a person *ner. The bride, too, is conducted to her fu- representing that bold outlaw, presided as ture spouse, in the presence of the minister, Lord of the May, attended by maid Marian, and the glass goes round in the course of the his faithful mistress, as Lady of the May, sun. This is called in Gaelic, going round and by persons appropriately dressed, denothe right or the lucky way. The opposite is minated Robin Hood's men. Bishop Latimer of course the wrong or unlucky way; and if complains in one of his sermons, that, coma person's meat or drink accidentally enters ing to preach in a certain town, on a holiday, the windpipe, or “goes the wrong way,” as he found the church door locked, and was it is usually termed, they instantly cry out, told the parish could not hear bim that day, Deisheal !--an ejaculation expressive of a for they were gone to gather for Robin wish that it may go the right.
Hood, it being Robin Hood's day. The good This superstition was in vogue amongst bishop says, that notwithstanding his rochet, the Romans.
he was fain to give place to Robin Hood. The custom of sending drink round a com- King Henry VIII. was entertained with a pany from left to right, has been supposed to May game at Shooter's Hill, by the officers be a vestige of this superstition, and there of his guards, amounting to two hundred, are many, at the present day, who would clothed in green, beaded by one who perreckon it unlucky to take the opposite sonated Robin Hood. He met the king as
he was taking his morning ride, attended by The Antitheton of the Deasil is the Wid- the queen and nobility of both sexes; and, dersinnis. f The Highlanders ascribe some on inviting his majesty to see how he and preternatural virtue to that motion which is his companions lived, the royal train was opposed to the course of the sun, or to what forthwith conducted by the archers, blowing grows in that way. This is particularly their horns, to a green wood under the hill, attended to in magical ceremonies, and is and ushered into an arbour of boughs, mentioned as the mode of salutation given by formed into chambers, and covered with witches and warlocks to the Devil. Ross, in Towers and sweet herbs, where Robin Hood, his additions to the ancient song, “ The apologizing for the want of more delicate reRock and the wee pickle tow," makes the freshment, said to the king—“ Sir, we outspinster not only attend to the wood of her laws usually breakfast upon venison, and rock, that it should be of the Rantry, or have no other food to you," and the king mountain ash, itself, as we shall see, a and queen sate down, and were served with powerful specific against the effects of witch- venison and wine. They were well pleased craft, but also to the direction of its growth:- with their entertainment, and on their de
parture were met by two ladies, splendidly " I'll gar my ain Tammy gae down to the how, apparelled, as the Lady May and the Lady And cut me a rock of a widdershins grow, Flora, riding in a rich open chariot, who, Of good rantry-tree, for to carry my tow, saluting the king with divers goodly songs, And a spindle of the sanse for the twining o't."
brought him to Greenwich. This game was
also common in Scotland, but as numerous Again, on Mayday there is another rite, meetings for disorderly mirth are apt to give still pretty generally observed throughout occasion to tumult, it was found necessary to Scotland, by the superstitious or by the repress it by statute in 1555. youthful, merely as a frolic—it is the gather- At these times, a gathering for Robin ing of Maydew, to which some ascribe a Hood, as it was termed, took place; a numhappy, others a medical influence. Early ber of persons going through the country to in the morning they sally out in numbers to collect money for defraying the expenses of gather it.
the exhibition, and for purchasing dresses in We have already seen that the Beltein is which the actors were to appear.* not confined to Scotland, but that it is an
* The following curious estimates are from Lyon's * Pennant derives this term from Gael. Deas, or Envirous of London :Des. the right-hand, and syl. the sun.
1, llen. 8. Recd. for Robyn Hod's Teut. weder.sins, contrario modo.--Kilian,
Some of the superstitions connected with To make their cows luck, or prosper, it is the first of May, seem to he transferred to believed to be only necessary to milk a little the third, which is Rood Day, or Rude Day out of each teat upon the ground, but that '-(A.S. Rode, a cross)--the day of the in- the reverse will
be the case, if the ceremony vention of the cross. Some old Scotch be neglected. This is evidently a Pagan rite, women are careful, on the eve of this day, being a libation, either to the old Gothic or for the purpose of preserving their work German deity, Hertha—the earth, or to the from the power of witchcraft, to have their fairies. A similar superstition prevails in rocks and spindles made of the roan tree the north of Scotland, with regard to the (the Sorbus sylvestris Alpina, L.) which pro- pankail-a broth made of coleworts. Of bably received its name from Runa, incan- old, in preparing this, the meal which rose tation, because of the use made of it in as the scum of the pot, was not put into any 'magical arts. With the Greeks, the rham- dish, but thrown among the ashes : from the nus, probably a species of buckthorn, was idea, that it went to the use of the fairies, the great ansçıxaxos, or keeper off of evil who were supposed to feed upon it—a cerespirits, against which it was reputed a sove- mony resembling one amongst the ancient reign amulet. When any person was seized Romans, who, in order to consecrate any 'with a dangerous distemper, it was usual to kind of food, generally threw a part of it fix over his door a branch of rhamnus and into the fire, as an offering to the Lares, laurel : which custom is quoted by Potter, or household gods, who were thence called as mentioned by Laërtius, in his life of Bion Dii Patellarii. the Boristhenite :
On Rood day, also, great virtue is ascribed
to May dew. In every part of Scotland, “Ραμνον τε, και κλαδον δαφνης
Rude day does not signify the same period. "Υπερ θυρην εθηκεν
In the old Scotch acts, it is applied to the Απαντα μαλλον, η Φανειν,
14th of September, 0.8. (25th September, “Ετοιμος ων υπουργειν.
N.S.), and to the present day, the same de# The door of Bion's house is seen
signation holds in Lanark, Roxburgh, and With Rhamnus and with laurel green;
other shires. From this day (in September), That should death come to break his rest, These may deter the intruding guest."
a calculation is made as to the state of the
atmosphere : for it is said, that if the deer That the former was the great preserva- lie down dry and rise dry on Rude day, there tive against evil spirits, is shown in a frag- will be sax ow ks of dry weather. ment of Euphorio :
Whitsuntide is the only moveable feast,
which falls about this period; so called, be'Aλεξικακον φυε ραμνον.
cause the converts, newly baptized, appeared “ Produced the Rhamn, against mischievous ills from Easter to Whitsuntide in white An antidote."
hence White Sunday-Teut. Weissentag:On Rood day, many persons in Scotland (Skinner.) hang up branches of the roan tree above the Whit Monday and Whit Tuesday, are obdoors of their cow houses, and tie them
served as festivals, for the same reason as round the tails of their cattle with scarlet Monday and Tuesday in Easter week. Their threads. Indeed great attention to their religious character is, however, almost obcows is supposed to be necessary, as both solete, and they are now kept as holidays, in witches and fairies are believed to be at work which the lower classes still pursue their in milking the tether, an expression which favourite diversions. The Whitsun-ales, and implies a power possessed by witches of other customs formerly ohserved at this carrying off the milk of any one's cows, by
season, are almost wholly obsolete. pretending to perform the operation of milk
On St. Urban's Day (May 25th), we are ing upon a hair tether; an idea, however, told by J. B. Aubanus, that in many parts of not confined to Scotland, but obtaining, at
Germany, all the vintners and masters of the present day, amongst the vulgar in vineyards set a table either in the marketSweden.
stead, or in some other open and public place,
and covering it with fine napery, and strawan 5. Hen. 8. Recd. for Robin Hood's
ing upon it greene leaves and sweete flowers, gaderyng at Croydon 11. Hen. 8. Paid for three broad yerds
do place upon the table the image of that of rosett for makyng the
holy bishop, and then, if the day be cleare frer's cote,
0. 3. 6. and faire, they crown the image with great Shoes for the mores daun
store of wine; but if the weather prove sars, the frere and mayde Maryan, at 7d. a payre,
rugged and rainie, they cast filth, mire, and
0. 5. 4. 16. Hen. 8. Recd. at the church-ale and
puddle water upon it: persuading themRobynhode all things de
selves that, if that day be faire and calme, ducted,
3. 10. 6. their grapes, which then begin to flourish, This extract,
or indeed any one, taken at random will prove good that year; but if it be storfrom the old English writers, in which the same words frequently recur, shows tbat our ancestors
mie and tempestuous, they shall have a bad had no fixed standard of orthography,
vintage."-(Forster, p. 250.)
0. 9. 4.