Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/59

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51
NOTES ON HARVEST CUSTOMS.

get, or cut, the last sheaf to select the maiden' from . . . . . . A friend from Wigtonshire was here some weeks ago, when I was away from home, and he told my wife, the only custom in that district was throwing water on the man that led the last load home, but this has been done away with, as the horses often got frightened. He did not know the origin of the custom, nor could he give any reason why the water was thrown."

Mr. Cameron also enclosed a letter from Mr. Horace Warner, of which the following is an extract. The letter is dated, 44, Highbury Park, N., Nov. 11th, 1888.

"You asked me to describe the scene of 'Harvest Home' we witnessed in the country in Norfolk, and so I will do it to the best of my ability. The sun was setting behind the old wind-mill as we crossed the field of stubble, when from a little group came a woman, who with a low curtsey asked us for 'largess(e),' the old English word for money, which is still used in parts of the country. We thence passed on to the road, where in the distance we heard merry shouts and cheering, which gradually approached, and round the corner of the road came a fine team of horses mounted by two lads dressed in the costume of women, and on the top of the corn were a merry lot. The waggon stopped, gave us three cheers, which we returned, and then on went the joyous men to the village green, where, as the children came out of the village school, they stopped, and many of the children were hoisted on to the top to join in the shouts."

In Fifeshire, the custom of the 'maiden' seems still to be regularly kept up ; for in a recent case which came before the sheriff, the date of one of the events was fixed by the day on which the 'maiden' was cut, as if the cutting the 'maiden' was a matter of popular notoriety. This was told me by Mr. Sheriff Mackay, before whom the case was tried.

I learn on good authority that the custom of the harvest 'maiden' is practiced at the end of the maize harvest in America. The ears form the 'maiden's' head and the husks her dress. A similar custom used to be observed in cutting the sugar-canes in Louisiana, as we learn from the Journal of American Folk-Lore. As this journal may