Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/277

This page needs to be proofread.

The Scape-Goat in E^iropean Folklore. 263

some of our own Christmas customs are a survival of similar ceremonies.^

Besides this direct expulsion of invisible evils, there are, as Dr. Frazer has shown in great detail, various forms of indirect expulsion. The invisible evils may be conceived as loaded on the back of an animal or human being; in this form, from the best known example, the custom is known as the Scapegoat ; or where the evil principle is regarded as spiritual and personal, it may be compelled to enter into the body of an animal or bird, and is thus removed from the midst of the community.

Corresponding to these ceremonies we have the expul- sion of evils in visible form. Dr. Frazer quotes the Esthonian custom of driving out the devil ; if it is rumoured that he has been seen about a village, the whole population turns out to give chase ; the object of the hunt is usually a wolf or a cat. Of considerable interest from the point of view of my paper is another European custom cited by Dr. Frazer. In Westphalia there is a form of the expulsion of evils known as the driving out of the Sommervogel or Suentevogel, i.e. the butterfly. On the 22nd of February the children go from house to liouse knocking on them with hammers and singing doggerel rhymes in which they bid the Sommervogel depart. An alternative form of the practice is for the inmates of the house to drive the Sommervogel out.^

A similar custom prevails in Barcelona at Easter. The children, armed with wooden mallets, amuse themselves with beating the pavements and the walls of the houses. The blows are supposed to kill any Jews who may be hiding in the houses.^

Closely connected with the former case, in which the

^ Rev. Hist. Rel. xxxviii. 335 ; Burne, Shropshire Folklore, pp. 410, 484-8 : cf. Guisers' Play and Songs from Staffordshire, same author, in F.L. Journal, vol. iv. (1885).

2 G.B." iii. 92 n. ^ N. and Q. 9th series, v. 315.