Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/307

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

The Dancing-Tower Processions of Italy. 259

such as the hunting of the wren and other obscure customs. But into these points I need not go here.

This broad distinction in purpose then is usually accom- panied by a difiference in the season of these two kinds of celebrations. The ;;^<^««-diffusing, actively-beneficent ones are found in the late spring and summer, the scavenging, passively beneficial in the winter and the early months of the New Year. Judging from the date of these Italian celebrations, one would say their purpose was to diffuse a holy influence, not to remove an evil one.

Further than this in the present state of our knowledge we cannot go with certainty. There is, however, a point — the connection of the ship with some of the celebrations — which calls for some remarks. Ships are of course by no means invariably a " note " of a god-procession ; in fact it is quite common, especially in the East Indies, to find the ship figuring in an exorcism ceremony or in an expulsion of evils. But it should not be forgotten that in ancient Europe especially we have frequent trace of the sacred character of the ship-car ; in fact, one might be tempted to ask whether this is not the primitive type of the waggon. The wheel may well have been evolved as an aid to launching. I have already mentioned the ship-procession of Nerthus in the plains of N.W. Europe ; ^ to this must be added the ship of Dionysus- in the Anthesteria, and of the Panathenaion ;3 probably a little research would dis- close other cases."* The ship is of course a familiar figure in the Carnival, and possibly we have in the ship of the Ceri no more than a transference from the spring ceremony. The May-day ship of other districts, however, suggests that the ships of Nola and Palermo may be a real survival.

N. W. Thomas.

^Tacitus, Genu., 40.

2 Rhein. Mus. , 43, 355 : Usener, Sintfluisagcn, passim.

^ Michaelis, Parthenon, 327 sq.

^I have given the European parallels known to me in Folklore, vol. xii., p. 476, cf. p. 307.

[Can any correspondent give particulars of the celebration of the Festival of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin (2nd July) at Boulogne? The 14th stanza of the "Morning May song" {ajite, p. 57) suggests a former ship- procession at Padstow. The Shetland ship-procession {Folklore, vol. xiv., p. 74) seems rather to belong to the expulsion-of-evil class. — En.]