Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/424

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

382 Old- World Survivals in Ross-shire.

Hebridean custom, and, though fast dying out, it is not unknown, and last autumn I tasted some. Michaelmas Day was always observed in the Celtic Calendar, and Struan Michaels and Beltane Bannocks entered as [much into the calculations of the Highland housewife as do Shrove-tide cakes and hot-cross-buns elsewhere. They were prepared somewhat after this fashion. The first sheaves of the harvest were taken, dried, and ground into meal with the quern. Then the housewife took some eggs, butter, and treacle, mixed them up, and into the mixture put the new meal, makmg a dough. On the stone slab forming her hearthstone she put some red hot peats, and when sufficiently heated swept it clean. On this the dough was placed to cook with an inverted pot over it. During the process of cooking it was often basted with beaten eggs, forming a custard-like covering. Finally, after the cake was cooked a small piece was broken off and cast into the fire. Why? you will ask. Well, as an offering to the Donas, or old Hornie, or what- ever may be the correct designation of that presiding genius whom we are led to believe inhabits the fiery regions. The housewife did this in order to safeguard herself and her household against the Evil One. After reserving some of the Struan for the use of the household, she went round the neighbours in triumph and gave them a bit each, there being usually a great rivalry as to who should be the first to grind the new meal and get the Struan ready. The first to do so was generally understood to have the best crops through the coming year.^

It is worthy of note how very similar are the Afghans in many of their characteristics to the Celtic race. One who knew^ Afghanistan well told me that in the nature of their favourite sports, their love of their native land, and in their superstitions, the Afghans and the Highlanders are almost identical. The Afghan's most common way of foretelling ' [Cy. vol. xiii.. p. 44. — Ed.]