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the worship that they did to this woman Februa, and do worship to our Lady, and to her Sonne our Lord Jesus Christ; so that now this feast is solemnly hallowed thorowe all Christendome." 1 A few weeks later in the year, another very singular practice, though of much more limited extent, proclaims the durability even of the most irrational usages, when they are once rooted in the habits of a people. In Northumberland, grey peas which have been steeped in water are fried with various condiments on Midlent Sunday, which was formerly called Care, or Carle, and now is Carlin Sunday, and this dish is eaten in almost every cottage: yet no one knows why; there is not one among them that can explain the custom; and they would be much surprised to learn that it is the remnant of an old heathen superstition. There is, indeed, some little variety of time and circumstance, but not more than may be easily explained. The origin of the name is German: for in that language formerly Karr signified a fine or punishment of transgression, or rather satisfaction made for punishment.2 Hence, Karrwochen was used for Passion-week, of which the first day was called in the church of Rome Passion-Sunday; and rites peculiar to Good Friday (in German, Karr Fryetag) were performed upon it. These rites, therefore, were doubtless the same as those observed upon the 12th of March at
1 The English Festy vall, in Brand's Observ. on Pop. Antiq. p. 39.
2 Hospinian de orig. Fest. Christ. fol. 54.
Rome, where, on that day, we are told, they observed the mysteries of Christ, and his passion, with great ceremony and much devotion.1
There can be little doubt that a part of that ceremony was the distribution of pulse, which, in an old Roman calendar, is assigned to the 12th of March; for it was the custom there-a custom derived from their heathen ancestors -to give away beans at funerals. 3 Erasmus observes that the Flamen Dialis was not allowed to touch or even to name beans, because they were supposed to belong to the dead, and were used in sacrifices to the dead, and letters of woe were discernible in their flower. 4 One of the reasons given by Pliny for the prohibition of beans by Pythagoras is, that the souls of the dead were in them: which seems to admit of only one explanation. The bean-pod is shaped like the Egyptian Bari, and consequently like the boat in which the souls of the dead were ferried across Styx by Charon: for that story belongs to Egypt. Since then such mysterious properties were ascribed to this plant, and the superstitious heathen, after having cleansed his hands at the fountain, is represented turning away to propitiate the infernal spirits by throwing beans out of his mouth, and saying, "With these beans I redeem
1 Lloyd's Dial. of Days.
2 Fabæ molles in sportulam dantur.—Brand's Popular Antiquities. 3 Fabis Romani sæpius in sacrificiis funeralibus operati sunt, nec est ea consuetudo abolita alicubi inter Christianos, ubi in eleemosinam pro mortuis fabæ distribuuntur.-Moresini Papatus. p. 55. 4 Erasm. Adag. in A Fabis abstineto.
myself and mine," it might be thought that they would be a memorial of real redemption sufficiently falling in with the habits of the new converts, to be readily employed in a new service. In England, peas were substituted for beans, perhaps because it was a pulse more easily procured, and more fit to be eaten at that season of the year; and with respect to the time, Easter being a moveable feast, the 12th of March would coincide with different Sundays in Lent, in the different years when the custom was introduced into different regions. This is not the only instance in which our sacred festivals have been contaminated by the adhesion of some old idolatry: neither Good Friday nor Easter have escaped. The bun of the former is the Grecian Boun, which Julius Pollux and Hesychius explain to be a cake with horns, offered every seventh day, as Bryant says, in Arkite temples, and originating with Cecrops, or, in other words, with the commencement of Grecian history. The latter is the name of a goddess, whose festivities were celebrated in April. "The name of Eostre," says Sharon Turner, "is still retained to express the season of our great pascal solemnity, and thus the memory of one of the idols of our ancestors will be perpetuated as long as our language
Terque manus puras fontanâ proluit undâ,
Aversusque jacit; sed dum jacit, hæc ego mitto,
His, inquit, redimo meque meosque fabis.
OVID, Fast. v. 435.
Two others have been
and country continue." doomed to a more disgraceful fate, one being appropriated to the impostures of the conjuror, and the other a synonom for Satan. Ochus Bochus the magician and Neccus the demon are still preserved in Hocus Pocus and Old Nick. Sir Walter Scott, who was a great lover of old traditions, has discovered many relics of former times in his own country, and his observations are so much to the purpose, that I cannot do better than transcribe them. "Though the thrones of Jupiter and the rest were overthrown and broken in pieces, fragments of their worship, and many of their rites, survived the conversion to Christianity - nay, are in existence even at this late and enlightened period, although those by whom they are practised have not preserved the least memory of their original purpose." Among the ancient customs which he mentions, these are remarkable: "When the bride in Scotland enters her husband's house, she is lifted over the threshold, and to step on it or over it voluntarily is reckoned a bad omen. This custom was universal in Rome, where it was observed as keeping in memory the rape of the Sabines, and that it was by a show of violence toward the females that the object of peopling the city was obtained. On the same occasion, a sweet cake, baked for the purpose, is broken above the head of the bride, which is also a rite of classic antiquity. In like
1 Hist. of Anglo Saxons, ii. 15.
manner, the Scottish, even of the better rank, avoid contracting marriage in the month of May. The ancients have given us a maxim, that it is only bad women who marry in that month. ' The custom of saying 'God bless you,' when a person sneezes, is derived from sternutation being considered as a crisis of the plague in Athens, and the hope that when it was attained the patient had a chance of recovery." There are other ancient, perhaps more ancient, superstitions, though not derived from a classic source, to the existence of which, notwithstanding the diffusion of evangelical light for eighteen hundred years, he likewise bears witness. "In many parishes of Scotland, a certain portion of land, called the Gudeman's Croft, was never ploughed or cultivated, but suffered to remain waste, like the temenos of a pagan temple. There must be still many alive who in childhood have been taught to look with wonder on knolls and patches of ground left uncultivated, because whenever a ploughshare entered the soil the elementary spirits were disposed to testify their displeasure by storms and thunder. For the same reason, the mounts called Sith Bhruaith were respected, and it was deemed dangerous and unlawful to cut wood, dig earth and stones, or otherwise disturb them." 3 The real cause why these knolls and mounds were so much respected will be shown in the sequel. But before we take our leave of this writer, another
Malæ nubent Maiâ.