Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/98

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82 Collectanea.

and girls who crowded the balconies showered flowers upon them, also nuts and grains of wheat, and on their entering the house one of the kinsfolk threw from one of the windows or balcony a few handfuls of barley and some small coins on their heads.

The nuptial feast took place immediately afterwards ; but the bride ate in a separate apartment. The repast being ended she was seated next to her husband and drank out of the same cup. At a village wedding the company always danced during the feast, each dancer throwing a piece of money to the fiddlers, and each guest contributing a fowl to the repast. The bride always passed a week in her father's house, after which she was received with much pomp by her husband, whose relations gave a great feast which was called " il hargia."

The Kuccija is an elaborate entertainment given by the parents on the first anniversary of their children's birth. The company of relations and friends having assembled the child is brought in, and if it be a boy he is presented with a basket or tray containing corn, sweetmeats, coins, an inkstand, a candle, a rosary, a book, a sword, and other toys. If the baby is a girl, needles, silk, and ribbons supply the place of the sword and inkstand. The choice the baby makes on this occasion will, according to Maltese notions, give a just idea of his future disposition and the profession which he will follow.

On the Death of a Maltese, two or three women called Neuuieha, hired for the occasion and attired in long mourning cloaks, imme- diately entered the house, singing in a low and dismal voice some appropriate death-song. These women cut away branches of such vines as formed arbours in the courts, disturbed the furniture &c., in all the apartments, overturned the flowerpots in the windows, broke some of the ornamental furniture, and carrying the frag- ments to a retired spot, threw them into a cauldron of boiling water in which they mixed soot and ashes. With this liquid they stained all the doors of the house, howling and sobbing most dismally whilst performing the operation. The Neuuieha then proceeded to the chamber of the deceased, already in his coffin and surrounded by his female relations wearing veils over their faces and black silk cloaks — the room being stripped of all its furniture and hung with black cloth. The Neuuieha, throwing themselves on their knees at the foot of the coffin, began singing the praises of the dead, and cut off" handfuls of their hair which they spread over the coffin.