Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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THE KLOPFELNACHTE
to house, singing hymns and knocking on the doors with rods or little hammers, or throwing peas, lentils, and the like against the windows. Hence these evenings have gained the name of Klopfel or Kriopflinsnachte (Knocking Nights).27 The practice is described by Naogeorgus in the sixteenth century :
"Three weekes before the day whereon was borne the Lord of
Grace, And on the Thursdaye Boyes and Girlcs do runnc in every
place, And bounce and beate at every doore, with blowcs and lustic snaps, And crie, the Advent of the Lorde not borne as yet perhaps. And wishing to the neighbours all, that in the houses dwell, A happie yeare, and every thing to spring and prosper well : Here have they peares, and plumbs, and pence, ech man gives
willinglee, For these three nightes are alwayes thought, unfortunate to bee ; Wherein they are afrayde of sprites and cankred witches' spight, And dreadfull devils blacke and grim, that then have chiefest
might." 28
. With it may be compared the Macedonian custom for village boys to go in parties at nightfall on Christmas Eve, knocking at the cottage doors with sticks, shouting Kolianda ! Kolianda ! and receiving presents,29 and also one in vogue in Holland between Christmas and the Epiphany. There " the children go out in couples, each boy carrying an earthenware pot, over which a bladder is stretched, with a piece of stick tied in the middle. When this stick is twirled about, a not very melodious grumbling sound proceeds from the contrivance, which is known by the name of * Rommelpot.' By going about in this manner the children are able to collect some few pence." 30
Can such practices have originated in attempts to drive out evil spirits from the houses by noise ? Similar methods are used for that purpose by various European and other peoples.3i Anyhow something mysterious hangs about the Klopfelnachte. They are occasions for girls to learn about their future husbands, and upon them in Swabia goes about Pelzmarte, whom we already know.32
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