Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/52

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40 Midsummer Customs in Morocco.

have the effect of filling the tent in the future with various kinds of food. In Andjra and elsewhere a meal similar to that which in other parts of Morocco is partaken on Midsummer Day is eaten on New-Year's Eve (Old Style), the so-called lilts l-hagilza. The people then bless the food by saying : — Allah fitala ydrzakna fi z-zrd wd z-zerr^'a fi r-rezk wd l-dmdr, " May God the highest bestow on us wheat and seed, good fortune and a long life." The Jbala call this dish sioha. It is thus even literally identical with the midsummer meal of the Rif Berbers {imsiah).

Whilst the eating ceremony which among some tribes is practised at midsummer is among other tribes practised on New-Year's Eve of the solar year, we frequently meet with fire and water customs in the beginning of the Muhammedan year, on l-'dsur day, that is, on the loth of Moharram, the first month in the Muhammedan calendar. At D^mnat, in the Great Atlas, I was present (in disguise) when, on l-dsur eve, a big fire was made outside the governor's house, and people were leaping over it to and fro. When asking for an explanation of this ceremony, I was told that the people thereby insure their lives till the next 'dsur. That this fire, like the midsummer fire, is meant to purify them from all kinds of evil, is obvious from the words which they utter when leaping over it. In Aglu, in Sus, the fire is lighted at three different points by an unmarried girl belonging to a family reputed for their good luck. When the fire has burned down, the young men leap over the glowing embers, saying : — Nssussn gigm afdhirt iggur'dan ula tilkin tela timudan rkalb ula ti ihsan nzgrdni dag imdl yimdl imdl yimdl imdl ytmdl selhen'a dessdht, " We shook on you, O Lady 'Asur, fleas and lice and the illnesses of the heart as also those of the bones ; we shall pass through you again next year and the following years with safety and health." Then the charred branches are carried to Sidi Busmen's sanctuary, and the