Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/127

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OF THE MORDVINS. 119

brand that has been carefully preserved from the last winter festival. When ignited, it is pushed into the pit below the stove, and the wood in the stove is lit from the blazing faggot. Besides the brand they put in the pit a log of birch, still wet, which smoulders for three days. On the remains of the brand they pour some of the water in which the switches were softened. Afterwards, it is put under the hearth- stone, to serve for the next winter's festival. Doucing the brand should be performed by a child, the youngest member of the house- hold that can stand on its feet. Before this is done its mother shakes salt over the brand, and as it crackles in the fire, she says :

"0, Nishhi Pas, shine upon us more sharply than salt; do not thunder, O Pas PurgineP

iN'ext day (Christmas-day) the married women cover the floor with clean straw, put a bath-switch of birch with its head outwards in the front corner, and a lighted candle in front of it, and then begin pre- paring food. The pig's head is cooked separately, and, when ready, a red ^%^ is put in its mouth, and also a softened sprig of birch. On the dish they lay red threads like a beard under the head, and this is called, " the golden beard."

At mid- day, December 25, the master of the house lights a candle and falls on his knees with all the household before the open window. At all divine services at home the Mordvins keep the window open and look through it to the sky while repeating their prayers. All bow towards the ground and elevate their hands, while the master of the house invites the gods as guests in this way:

" 0, Cham Pas, have mercy upon us. 0, Ange Patyai, dear mother, most holy mother of God, come to our house, to thy hjoU chyanyan festival. 0, Nishki Pas, 0, InicTie Pas, come to our house, to thy kyolchyanyan festival. O, Svyet Vereshhi Velen Pas (here other divinities are mentioned, as the case may be), come to our house with Ange Patyai and her son Iniche Pas to their kyolchyanyan festival."

Cham Pas is too great to be invited as a guest. The Mordvins say if he were to enter anyone's house the whole village, with all its inhabitants, buildings, cattle, fields, woods, rivers, and wells, would burn up in the twinkling of an eye.