Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/298

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284 The Scape-Goat in Etiropean Folklore.

owl adorns the korovai, or wedding-cake, and is the perquisite of the father.^ In Podolia pigeons are on the cake, and a living pigeon is given in Poitou.^ In Naabburg and Normandy the pigeon was eaten by the newly-married.^ Among the Letts the husband had to carve a partridge on his wedding day.*

From this epitome of wedding customs it will be apparent that the " Brauthahn " ceremony is found in many different forms ; in fact, if we had no other animal customs connected with weddings, it would be rash to speculate as to its significance. But it seems to me to be a fair hypothesis that in this group of customs also we find the idea of a transference of evils as the primitive feature, which has subsequently been transfigured out of all recognition. As an explanation, therefore, of many wedding and annual sacrificial customs in which animals figure I suggest that they are cathartic. And if this hypothesis seems to labour under the familiar disadvan- tage of seeking to explain too much by one key, may I point out that, so far as I know, the customs in question do not exist outside Europe and perhaps a portion of North Asia; they may well, therefore, have spread from a single centre. On the other hand Dr. Frazer has, I think, demonstrated the immense importance of this idea of the expulsion of evils in all parts of the world ; it is, therefore, by no means improbable a priori that they should be widely spread in Europe, nor yet that they should have survived till our own day.

But the annual customs, hunt, sacrifice, liberation and so on, are only one side of the attitude of the folk towards animals. Side by side with these annual customs is the belief that the animal is sacrosanct, and popular

^ Anihropologie, ii. 558, n. 4.

^Baumgarten, die kom. Mysterien, p. 312.

^ Anthropologie, ii. 423, n. i ; Dumine, Tenchebray, p. 483.

'^ Rev. Trad. Fop. iv. 324.