Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/40

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28 Midsiwimer Customs in Morocco.

living for a considerable time among various tribes of the 'Arab on or near the Atlantic coast, the Jbala of Northern Morocco, and the Shluh of the Great Atlas and the pro- vince of Haha ; thus my residence among the Andjra mountaineers of the Jbala group lasted for half a year. But also the statements referring to tribes which I have not visited myself are derived from trustworthy native sources, from members of, or residents among, those tribes, with the exception perhaps of one or two cases, specially indicated, in which my informants seem to have spoken from hearsay rather than from experience.

Among these various groups of natives certain cere- monies are performed on June 24th, Old Style, the so-called l-'dnsdra (in Shelha — i.e., the Berber dialect spoken by the Shluh — tdnsart) day, or on the eve of that day.

On l-dnsdra day, after sunset, the Andjra mountaineers kindle big fires in open places in their villages. Men, women, and children leap over these fires, believing that by doing so they rid themselves of all l-bds, or misfortune, which may be clinging to them ; the sick will be cured and childless couples will have offspring. Nobody is hurt by the fire, for there is baraka, benign virtue, in the smoke. Some straw, as also some marjoram {sdhfar) and alum, is burned in the zriba, or enclosed place outside the dwelling house where the cattle, sheep, and goats are kept at night ; the smoke will make the animals thrive. The people also burn straw, dry grass, herbs, or twigs in their gardens. Thus, in the garden attached to the cottage where I was living, a small fire was lighted under each fig-tree, and I was told that if this were not done the fruit would fall before it was ripe. In places where there are bees, the people burn dry cowdung, the smoke of which will m.ake the honey plentiful and prevent the bees from being killed by thunder. I have found similar midsummer customs among other Jbala tribes that I have visited. In Jbel Habib I heard that on l-dnsdra eve branches are cut from