Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/293

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The Scape-Goat in European Folklore. 279

stroking the face with it and then letting it go; this too is a remedy for freckles.^ Many other similar customs might be quoted both with regard to animals and to phenomena such as the rainbow, thunder,^ and so on ; but the mere heaping up of examples will not establish the suggested explanation, if it is not justified by those already cited. I therefore pass on to my second point.

I have suggested above that the custom of throwing at cocks is a variant of the scapegoat. One period at which it is or was largely practised was the spring, a time of year which, on other grounds, we have reason to connect with cathartic practices. But throwing at cocks is also a feature of marriage customs in many parts of Europe ; and it seems possible that here too the same explanation may apply. In this connection the part taken by the newly-married in many spring customs, their share in the tug-of-war mentioned above, and especially the ducking of the newly-married man, and the carrying of the wren to the house of the newly-married, may perhaps be significant. At any rate as evidence of the belief that purificatory ceremonies are desirable at such a juncture I may cite the widely-found practice of beating the bride or bridegroom ; the Polterabend, in its primitive form, seems closely allied to expulsion ceremonies.

Throwing at cocks is not the only form of the customs dealt with earlier in this paper which is practised at weddings ; occasionally we find that the male guests are privileged to raid the neighbouring hen-roosts^ and farm yards ; possibly this may be the survival of a hunt. Another wedding custom, which I discussed some years ago, is that of the mimetic dance ; the mimetic dance seems to be of unmistakeable cathartic intention in some cases, and, if the suggestions made in this paper as to

^Bartsch, Sagen, ii. 363, cf. 158.

"^Jahrb. Schlesw. Hoist, viii. 102; Boecler-Kreutzwald, Ehsten, 115.

2 Romania, ix. 554 ; Wiss. Mitt, aus Bosnien, vi. 639, vii. 37.