ANCIENT SHROVE-TIDE CUSTOMS, WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO ROMAN GERMANIA.
BY C. RADEMACHER.
The customs prevailing in the Germanic countries around Shrove-tide are remnants of ancient spring festivals, the long period of feasting having been, according to the author, divided by the Christian Church into two sections by inserting in the midst of the heathen celebrations the period of Lent, with its fasting and meditation; while the spring festival of Easter was used for the purposes of the Church as a celebration of the Resurrection, and the Roman carnival found ready adoption prior to Lent.
The feasts of our rude ancestors were probably held on what the Anglo-Saxons called the Dhing-stead; the Germans, Malstätte. To this meeting-place the individuals brought contributions of food and drink. In most cases this custom survives in the usage of children of marching around through the villages, singing begging-songs and collecting eatables with which to have a feast at the village inn. Many of these begging songs are quoted by the author in the dialects of different regions.
Curious instruments are used by the children in making a noise and attracting attention, as the Rommelspott, a pot over which an animal skin has been stretched. By rubbing with a stick, a peculiar low growl is produced. Often, too, full-grown young men perform the office of the children, and, in the Eiffel, the poor of the community take advantage of the custom and gather in unusually liberal gifts. The name Zimbert, which occurs in connection with this feast in Rhenish Prussia, is traced to St. Bertha or Hertha, the goddess of spring. Some of the songs clearly preserve references