Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/296

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

282 The Scape-Goat in European Folklore.

but this view neglects the cock-throwing and other customs, which are sometimes only a preliminary to the eating of the bird, and may well have been the important feature at the outset. Thus a cock is burnt in Podliassie on the occasion of a wedding ; ^ but in the Government of Siedlitz a living cock is carried by its claws, when the newly married couple come out of church, and swung in the air ; it is subsequently taken into a field and fastened to a post wrapped in straw to which they set fire ; only the feathers of the cock are burnt, however, and the flesh is eaten.^ If we compare these two customs it is clear that the burning is far more likely to be the original custom than that it should have been developed out of the practice of eating a cock at the wedding breakfast.

The same may be said of a custom practised in the department of Indre. A young man before his marriage takes a cock to the house of his intended but stops at the door to pluck it. The custom is on all fours with the plucking of the wren and may be regarded as the essential element ; at the same time its significance is not quite clear.

Thus, though the " Brauthahn " is apparently a side issue, there are some grounds for regarding wedding ceremonies, including the " Brauthahn," as cathartic. I will, therefore, offer no excuse for giving at this point a brief survey of the group of analogous practices.^ In parts of Germany the cock no longer figured, though the name " Brauthahn " survived ; sometimes there was a pat of butter on the table in the form of a cock ; sometimes the name was given to the custom of offering a present of some sort, as in the well- known Welsh custom. Similarly in Great Russia the young wife the day after the wedding was presented with a cake on which were figures of cocks, ducks, etc.* In the

^ Globus, Ixix. 271. "^Anthropologic, iii. 543.

^ Globus, xiii. 244 ; Wiss, Mitt, aus Bosnien, vii, 325. '^Anthropologic, ii. 423, n. I.