Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/248

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236

THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

consecrated to her memory, and is known far and wide as the Hunna Spring. It occasionally happens in years when wine is scarce, so the story runs, that, when the people go to the spring of mornings and evenings to water their horses and cattle, wine flows out of all the outlets; and those who can boast that they have enjoyed this wine say that it is better than any other.

A St. Morand is honored as the patron of the vintners of a district near Worms, in consequence of a legend that the commune was once blessed, in answer to his prayers, with an unusually abundant harvest. Two portraits of him may be seen in the church at Steinbach, in one of which he is represented as holding a bunch of grapes and pressing out the juice with his hand.

The property is attributed to several springs in Alsace, of flowing only when the harvests are to be abundant.

According to the superstition in another region, if one will go to the Geisbrunn of Freiburg, in Breisgau, at midnight on New Year's, he will find a little man there, who in silence will give some very significant tokens. If the year is to be a good one, he will bear three ears of corn in one hand and three bunches of grapes in the other, and will make friendly gestures. If the year is going to be bad, he will have a sour face and empty hands.

The vineyard is surrounded, in Germany and other countries, by numerous poetic superstitions. The Swabians say that the grapes will receive a fine flavor if the vines are shaken on St. John's day. The Bavarians have a proverb that, if one would have good wine, he must write on his cask, "O taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm xxxiv, 8); and the South-Germans have a proverb, "If one would make good vinegar from wine, he must throw the names of three witches into it."

In Switzerland, the country people freshen up their stale wine by laying dead toads on the bung-holes of the casks. The ancient Germans were mindful of their gods at their feasts, when they strove to distinguish themselves as great drinkers; and the pious custom of drinking to the health of their divinities was binding among them. The North-Germans were accustomed at certain feasts to empty a cup to Bragi, and by that act to assume a promise to emulate the bold deeds of that god. Such promises were irrevocable. Bargains were therefore bound by a kind of drink-offering in order to obtain the favor of the gods. At the heir's-feast bumpers were drunk to the memory of the departing one; and on other occasions glasses were emptied in honor of those who were absent. These customs, from which our toasts appear to be derived, were not abolished in Christian times: only the saints succeeded to the rights of the gods. St. Martin, it is said, at his own desire, took the place of Donar; St. Gertrude received the honors that had been paid to Freya; and Njörd and Frey appear to have surrendered their functions to the first martyr of the