124 THE BELIEFS AND RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES
God, give health to thy grandchildren and to babes ; give health to their fathers and mothers, that the children may thrive, that their mothers may have plenty of milk in their breasts."
When this is concluded she drinks a little of the pui^ej then the women, and after them the men. The midwife now seats herself on the bench by the stove, takes a spoonful of thick groats and eats it, after her the women and the men take a spoonful ; lastly she gives a spoonful of the thin groats to the children. They do not sit down to supper till all these prayers and ceremonies have been gone through.
On December 27 the children alone, without their parents, meet at the midwife's. She warms up the food that had remained over. When they have eaten enough she takes them by the arm and leads them away to visit from house to house singing as they go :
" Let us go [now], dear old woman, Let us go [now], dear old mother ; Father has been brewing beer. Mother has been cooking groats ; Make a visit, dear old woman, Make a visit, O dear mother."
At every house they receive the midwife with honour, giving her beer, pies, and groats. On that day the groats are boiled in a pig's paunch.
The unmarried men and women, both in Mordvin and Russian villages, drive round from house to house singing and playing the palama (bagpipe) or the fiddle. The party stops at a branch road in the outskirts of the village, or at a well, and begin dancing a kind of round dance. In these amusements they carry about, as in the Tcyolyada processions, a bath-switch and a lantern.
On New Year's Eve, the Mordvins celebrate the festival of Taunsyai. In the Ersa language a pig is called taun, in Moksha, tuon;^ from this the name of the festival is derived. Mordvin influence on Russian customs is attested by the fact that the Russians, or rather the Russianised people of the governments of Ryazan, Vladimir, Tambof, the northern parts of Saratof, and in some parts of the governments
- In the dictionary Ersa, tuvo; Moksha, tuva; diminutive, tuvane.