Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/160

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144 Folklore of the Azores.

ing of the Indian corn, called the Esgalha de Milho, which takes place in the autumn.

The young men and maidens, accompanied by some of the older people, meet together in the threshing-floor, or Eira. After the customary salutations they take their places. Imagine them seated cross-legged, in a circle, on the dry husks, with the full harvest moon shining brightly down upon them. (If the night be dark or wet they will assemble instead in a barn, where an old tin lamp, filled with fish oil is suspended from a beam in the roof, or from a hook driven into the rude unplastered wall of hewn stone, sheds a dim light upon them.)

During the meeting the party is entertained with the music of the viola (a native instrument like a guitar wath twelve thin wire strings) played by one of the company. To this music they sing impromptu songs, or crack jokes, and tell stories and legends.

The cobs, or massarocas, are stripped of their first leafy covering and the finer leaf is left ; ten or twenty cobs being then tied together with twisted strips of leaf, or folha. The bunch is then tossed aside and another lot pro- ceeded with. When a red cob appears the finder is con- gratulated, and is considered very lucky, as they believe that that one will be the first o\ those present to be married. Therefore all embrace the fortunate one. When all the corn has been tied in bunches, it is stacked in a tolda to dry. These toldas are formed of three poles tied together in a pyramid form, on which the corn bunches are hung.

When some of the cobs have been husked and tied up, a large pot of steaming boiled milho of corn is brought in and emptied into a big dish, out of which all partake ad libitiun, taking a handful at a time. An earthen jar of water is often brought in as well, from which any who wish to quench their thirst, as it is passed round. Sometimes even new or almost unfermented wine, the pure juice of the grape, is also supplied. These people are not paid for