Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/284

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270 The Scape-Goat in European Folklore.

forward. There are other customs which seem to me capable of no other interpretation. Thus, in more than one village in Holland the last day of the Kirmess, which has in many cases absorbed elements from other festivals, was known as " Kat-uit " ; and old people say that down to 18 1 5 the custom existed, at any rate in Wambeck, of throwing a living cat out of the gates.^

I showed in a former paper read before this society^ that the cat figured in a number of annual ceremonies, among which was casting it down from a tower or other high place ; we have seen that there is reason to suppose the Biblical scapegoat to have been thrown down a preci- pice, and we seem to have here another case of the same rite ; other parallels might readily be quoted, but I pass on to better known customs.

Prominent among European animal customs is the hunting of the wren. I need not retraverse the ground already covered by Dr. Frazer in the Golden Bough ; it will be sufficient for me here to call attention, first, to the fact that, like the serpent of Dahomey, the wren is taken in procession round the village or town ; secondly, that as among the Piaroas the feathers are distributed and kept ; and, thirdly, that in many cases the end of the whole ceremony was the burial of the wren. More significant, however, for my purpose is the custom at Entraigues quoted by Dr. Frazer ; at this place the wren was hunted on Christmas Eve ; when they caught one alive, they humbly presented it to the priest, who, after the midnight mass, set the bird free in the church.^ In Nivernais one of the landowners had to come every year and kneel bareheaded without sword or spurs on the threshold of the principal gate of Champ d'loux ; and in this position to set free a wren brought to him for that purpose.*

1 Volkskunde, vi. 155. '^Folklore, xi. 228.

^CB."^ ii. 445. *Rolland, Faune, ii. 297.