Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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Formerly at Matignon and Ploubalay in Brittany on Christmas Eve the boys used to get together, carry big sticks and wallets, and knock at farmhouse doors. When the inmates called out, " Who's there ?" they would answer, " The hoguihanneu" and after singing something they were given a piece of lard. This was put on a pointed stick carried by one of the boys, and was kept for a feast called the bouriho.36 Elsewhere in Brittany poor children went round crying uau guyaney" and were given pieces of lard or salt beef, which they stuck on a long spit.37 In Guernsey the children's quest at the New Year was called oguinane. They chanted the following rhyme :
" Oguinani ! Oguinano ! Ouvre ta pouque, et pis la recclios." * 38
Similar processions are common in eastern Europe at the New Year. In some parts of Macedonia on New Year's Eve men or boys go about making a noise with bells. In other districts, early on New Year's morning, lads run about with sticks or clubs, knock people up, cry out good wishes, and expect to be rewarded with something to eat. Elsewhere again they carry green olive- or cornel-boughs, and touch with them everyone they meet.39 We have already considered various similar customs, the noise and knocking being apparently intended to drive away evil spirits, and the green boughs to bring folks into contact with the spirit of growth therein immanent.
In Roumania on New Year's Eve there is a custom known as the " little plough." Boys and men go about after dark from house to house, with long greetings, ringing of bells, and cracking of whips. On New Year's morning Roumanians throw handfuls of corn at one another with some appropriate greeting, such as:
" May you live, May you flourish Like apple-trees,
* " Ope thy purse, and shut it then."
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