Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/94

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78 Collectanea.

set fire to some pitch barrels which were placed for the occasion in the square facing the sacred hospital.

"Great crowds used to assemble here in order to assist at this ceremony. The setting ablaze of the five casks, and later on of the eight casks,^ by the Grand Master, was a signal for the others to kindle their fires in the different parts of the town.

Formerly the Feast of St. John (24th of June) was

very popular in Malta. It ranked with that of SS. Peter and Paul, celebrated at Notabile on the 29th of the same month.

" The number of people that flocked to Valletta from all parts of the island, on the morning of the day, was indeed very great. When the procession was over, most of the country people repaired to the upper Barracca, which was then roofed over, and conse- quently offered a very comfortable temporary asylum. Here they amused themselves till the evening, eating, drinking, and singing " (pp. 56-66).

May Day. — " Historians mention that there was a time in Malta, during the government of the Knights of St. John, when it was customary on the ist of May to deck the Grand Master's palace balcony, and the doors of those who were invested with the Grand Cross, with branches of trees " (pp. 11 2-1 13).

The Rose. — " When a woman is about to give birth to a child she sends to one of her neighbours for the loan of a withered flower called the 'passion flower,' which is put at once into the water, As soon as the flower opens the woman is delivered of the child.

" It is true that the rose opens after it has remained in the water for some time, although quite withered, but the fanaticism of some of our people is really excessive. A certain man relates that his wife was about to be confined and one of the neighbours brought her a passion flower. In the confusion, however, that prevailed at the moment, the withered flower was thrown into a drawer, and they forgot all about it. Shortly after, the woman was delivered of three sons. The flower, however, was not to be seen. One of the inmates then remembered that it was left in a drawer. What was his astonishment on opening that drawer to find that on the stem of the withered flower w^ere brought forth three branches covered with leaves " (p. 137)-

H. W. Underdown.

' Eipht beirif^ the lanc^nnges of the Order.