Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/125

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OF THE MORDVINS. 117

have the same custom, termed by the Russians kolyada, and by the Mordvins, after their birch tree divinity, kyolyada, the protector of cattle. The Russians have vainly endeavoured to explain their word either by the Latin calendoe, or by the Slavonic Icolo, a circle. The Mordvin word means " birchen," from Jcj/oIj Tcyolu^ a birch, the tree sacred to Ange Patyai.

During the summer festival girls and widows go about with fresh birch trees, but as these are not obtainable in winter the Mordvin women soften bath-switches of birch in boiling water, into which they put milk, a handful of millet, and break a few eggs. Some of the water is given, as we have seen, to the pig. Children's cradles are also washed with it, and women about to be confined are sprinkled with some.

On Christmas Eve boys and girls up to the age of 14 or 15 assemble together. The girls go about carrying bath-switches of birch to which scarfs and handkerchiefs are attached. These switches are also known as hyol hjolyada. The boys carry sticks, large and small bells, and stove plates. The procession is headed by a girl with a lantern, tied to the end of a stick, and carried high. She is followed by another girl carrying a sack. As they move in procession the children sing :

" Kyoly Kyolyada^

Golden bearded.

On his business we go.

Kyolyada has come.

Open the gate (orta)

Give to Kyolyada

Sausages, feet,

And old women's pancakes.

Kyol, Kyolyada

Golden bearded."

While this is being sung the boys ring the bells, beat the stove- plates, and raise a fearful din through the whole village. Approaching a window they sing :

" Ho ! Kyolyada ! [See] those red posts,