Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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PAGAN SURVIVALS
In Denmark, Sweden, and Norway creatures resembling both the Schimmelreiter and the Klapperbock are or were to be met with ! at Christmas. The name Julebuk (yule buck) is used for various | objects : sometimes for a person dressed up in hide and horns, or with a buck's head, who " goes for " little boys and girls ; some-times for a straw puppet set up or tossed about from hand to I hand ; sometimes for a cake in the form of a buck. People seem to have had a bad conscience about these things, for there are I stories connecting them with the Devil. A girl, for instance, who I danced at midnight with a straw yulebuky found that her partner I was no puppet but the Evil One himself. Again, a fellow who I had dressed himself in black and put horns on his head, claws on his hands, and fiery tow in his mouth, was carried off by the Prince of Darkness whose form he had mimicked.63 The associa- j tion of animal maskings with the infernal powers is doubtless the i work of the Church. To the zealous missionary the old heathen ritual was no mere foolish superstition but a service of intensely real and awful beings, the very devils of hell, and one may even conjecture that the traditional Christian devil-type, half animal half human, was indirectly derived from skin-clad worshippers at
Martinmas.
Between All Souls' Day and Martinmas (November n) there are no folk-festivals of great importance, though on St. Hubert's Day, November 3, in Flemish Belgium special little cakes are made, adorned with the horn of the saint, the patron of hunting, and are eaten not only by human beings but by dogs, cats, and other domestic animals.64 The English Guy Fawkes Day has already been considered, while November 9, Lord Mayor's Day, the beginning of the municipal year, may remind us of the old Teutonic New Year.
Round Martinmas popular customs cluster thickly, as might be expected, since it marks as nearly as possible the date of the old beginning-of-winter festival, the feast perhaps at which Ger-manicus surprised the Marsi in a.d. 14.65
The most obvious feature of Martinmas is its physical feasting.
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