Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/286

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272 The Scape-Goat in European Folklore.

the Thursday before Fastnacht to a pole at the side of the bridge. The pole is surrounded by the "Butzen" or wearers of masks, and the dancers, who defend it against robbers ; in the end, however, the latter succeed and carry off the bird, while the Butzen and the rest of the people break out into lamentations: "The Summer-bird is stolen ; now it will never be summer again," until the thieves are caught and thrown into the pond. Then the Narrenvogt solemnly sets the pigeon free.^

We have in this ceremony, I think, an excellent example of the mixed motives of many popular festivals; on my interpretation the "Sommervogel" was originally set free to remove the accumulated evils ; the thieves who carry it off represent the powers of evil ; consequently they must be conquered ; hence the bird which acts as the scapegoat must actually be recaptured and brought back. The ducking of the thieves is doubtless a rain-charm ; and the introduction of the ideas of a contest between summer and winter has finally metamorphosed the ceremony and made it appear that the bird is a precious possession and not the embodiment of evils.

Although there is little actual suggestion in any of the cases to which I have so far called attention, that the rite is one of purification or expulsion of evils, the form of the ceremony strongly suggests that this was the original meaning of the liberation of the animal. In the case of the wren this conclusion is supported by the fact that it figures in another part of France in a ceremony which has already been shown by Dr. Frazer to form part of Indian purificatory ceremonies ; this is the tug-of-war, which is seen in a modified form in the contest for the pigeon. At Laguenne, near Tulle in Lower Limousin, the inhabitants elected a person who bore the name of Roi de la Tire-vessie. He had to strip before his fellow-citizens and a crowd of curious

^ Mannhardt, Myih. Forsch. p. 134.