Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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PAGAN SURVIVALS
on their heads walk about the houses in which they once lived. Before nightfall every woman takes some garlic and anoints with it the door locks and window casements ; this will keep away the vampires. At the cross-roads there is a great fight of these loathsome beings until the first cock crows ; and not only the dead take part in this, but also some living men who are vampires from their birth. Sometimes it is only the souls of these living vampires that join in the fight ; the soul comes out through the mouth in the form of a bluish flame, takes the shape of an animal, and runs to the crossway. If the body meanwhile is moved from its place the person dies, for the soul cannot find its way back.24
St. Andrew's Day is sometimes the last, sometimes the first important festival of the western Church's year. It is regarded in parts of Germany as the beginning of winter, as witness the saying :
" Siinten-Dres-Misse, es de Winter gewisse." * 2s
The nights are now almost at their longest, and as November passes away, giving place to the last month of the year, Christmas is felt to be near at hand.
In northern Bohemia it is customary for peasant girls to keep for themselves all the yarn they spin on St. Andrew's Eve, and the Haus,rau gives them also some flax and a little money. With this they buy coffee and other refreshments for the lads who come to visit the parlours where in the long winter evenings the women sit spinning. These evenings, when many gather together in a brightly lighted room and sing songs and tell stories while they spin, are cheerful enough, and spice is added by the visits of the village lads, who in some places come to see the girls home.26
The KlOpfelnachte.
On the Thursday nights in Advent it is customary in southern Germany for children or grown-up people to go from house
* "At St. Andrew's Mass winter is certain." 2l6
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