Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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PAGAN SURVIVALS
it may be related to the sword-dance (see Chapter XIII.)—is obviously sacrificial. Several youths, with blackened faces and persons disguised, are the performers. One of them is put to death with a knife by a woman in hideous attire. Afterwards, with gross gestures, she dances with the victim.54 According to another account, from Gothland, the victim sits clad in a skin, holding in his mouth a wisp of straw cut sharp at the ends and standing out. It has been conjectured that this is meant to resemble a swine's bristles, and that the man represents a hog sacrificed to Frey.55
Lastly a Russian game may be mentioned, though it has no sacrificial suggestion. During the Christmas season girls play at what is called "the Burial of the Gold." They form a circle, with one girl standing in the centre, and pass from hand to hand a gold ring, which the maiden inside tries to detect. Meanwhile a song is sung, " Gold I bury, gold I bury." Some imaginative mythologists interpret the ring as representing the sun, buried by the clouds of winter.S6
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