Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/533

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
517
THE ORIGIN OF HOLIDAYS.

we must remember that his feelings connected with, death are by no means such as ours. Though the pains of separation and loneliness have come to be widely differentiated from those joyful, generous feelings connected with the beginnings of domestic life, yet with the savage it was more fear than affection which prompted the propitiation of the ghost of the dead, and a gift of presents for its use in the future world. The Pacific islanders, Asiatic peoples, African tribes, and American Indians, all, in one way or another, feast and sacrifice on occasion of the principal family events. Among the Karens a corpse lies in state three or four days, amid marching around to music of pipes, singing, lamentation, and athletic games. The Javanese have religious festivals for marriages, births, circumcision, and for the dead. The Tongans celebrate their chief's marriage by dancing, single combats, boxing, and wrestling. On the birth, of a child the feasting, sham fighting, night-dancing, etc., last for several days among the Samoans.[1] The principal friends of newly made parents among this same people bring presents on the third day after the birth of the child, according to an invariable rule, by which the husband's relatives bring pigs, canoes, and foreign property, and the wife's relatives bring fine mats and native clothes made by the females. These interchange their gifts and leave the parents as poor as before. The Malagasy's ceremonies, bull-baiting, dancing, singing, beating of drums, etc., at circumcision, last a week or even months. The Hottentots have feasts of eating, drinking, and smoking on the admittance of youth to manhood and womanhood, and on occasion of marriages and funerals. On the death of a king of the Congos[2] no work must be done, the natives stay at home, while the fields remain uncultivated for a month. A king's death among the coast negroes, Ashantees, and Abyssinians, however, is the signal for general lawlessness and plunder. The destruction of property, feasting, and sacrifices at an ordinary funeral often ruin one of these families. The celebrations of the Santals are few and simple: at admission into the family, tribe, and race; at marriage, divorce, cremation, and the reunion of the dead with their departed fathers. The funeral games of the Kirghiz are racing, wrestling, and trying to catch a coin out of a vessel of sour milk.

Coming to higher types of men, with more social and political coherence, the number and variety of festivals increase. They cease to be held for domestic events alone, but are extended to such tribal matters as, among the Abipones, councils of war, im-

  1. Spencer's "Descriptive Sociology," No. III, Table XII, p. 27, "Lowest Races, Negrito Races, and Malayo-Polynesian Races."
  2. Spencer's "Descriptive Sociology," No. IV, "African Races," Table XXIV, and page 18.