Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/220

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1 84 Collectanea.

altar from whence it came, on the success or non-success of its flight depending, in the opinion of the Contadini, the fate of this year's harvest. By some unhappy chance it flew no farther than midway down the nave, where, with a last despairing " fizzle," it became extinguished, revealing itself as a stuffed bird tied on to a bundle of squibs. Immediately the spectators rushed upon it, each trying to secure at least a feather. Finally a small child suc- ceeded in capturing what remained of the carcase, and went off with it in triumph.

That evening the walls were placarded with the announcement of a " Mala Pasqua," and all sorts of misfortunes for the present year were freely prophesied. A friend who had witnessed the " Scoppio " on many previous occasions told me she had never before seen it fail thus, and that the last time it happened was the year of the late Archbishop's death. ^

The points which struck me most were the curious shape of the " Carro " and the elaborate decoration of the oxen, which seemed to me to hint at a possible sacrificial origin.

Jessie L. Weston.

^"Another chapter is devoted to a description of the extraordinary cere- monial which takes place in the Duomo of Florence on every Easter Eve, when a firework in the shape of a dove is lighted at the high altar, rushes down a cord attached to a cart outside the west door, and there sets fire, in broad daylight, to a collection of squibs, crackers, gerbs, and other loudly- banging and evil-smelling combustibles. There is a wide-spread belief that if the dove flies straight to the cart the result will be a good harvest. Certainly the present writer can testify, from personal observation last Easter, that when, as then happened, some kink in the cord interrupted the flight and caused the dove to explode in small fragments inside the cathedral, a general depression seemed to seize the multitude who filled not only that enormous building but the whole piazza and the adjacent streets ; and the Florentine newspapers next morning wrote pathetically of the universal disappointment." — Review, Old Florence and Modern Tuscany, by Janet H. Ross; Morning Post, 26th Jan., 1905.