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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/534

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

pending fights, victories, birth of a chief's son, change of name (done at funerals), arrival of distinguished visitors, or the proclamation of a new chief. Among the Malagasy a grand feast, accompanied with dancing, music, and sports, terminates the ceremony of a treaty. The Mandans[1] hold a feast of the bull-fight, on which depends the coming of their supply of buffaloes. Two feasts are given by the Hottentots at the installation of a chief of a kraal: one by the person installed, when the men eat all the meat and give the broth to the women; and the second, given by the wife, when the women get the meat and the men the broth. The New-Zealanders give great feasts and Olympian games to other nations. In their national pride to outdo each other in prodigality the collection for these feasts is begun a year before, and the extravagance often produces a famine, so that the natives are obliged to leave their settlements till their crops are ripe. Cannibalism is simply the Fiji style of an occasional feast. Before going into war the Tahitians offer human sacrifices; and at the coronation of their king there is a great religious festival in honor of the monarch, whose girdle of red feathers identifies him with the gods. Different districts among them challenge each other to public games, e.g., wrestling, boxing, foot-racing, canoe-races, spear and javelin throwing, military and naval reviews, ball, archery, cock-fighting, surf-swimming, kite-flying, etc., all of which are also often connected with religious ceremonies or a cause of national rejoicing, such as the return of a king or the arrival of some distinguished visitor.

The transition from occasional to periodic festivals is through the various harvest celebrations. The Congos have a great harvest feast at the ripening of the yams, and the Ashantees celebrate the same event with processions and sacrifices of slaves. Sacrifices are made to the late village head of the Santals, at each stage of rice-planting. Three great festivals are held by the Gonds—at seed-time, at harvest, and when the mhowa flowers. A feast is also kept at the end of a monsoon to the god of rain. The Creeks have a religious feast of four to eight days on the ripening of the crops. A feast of first-fruits is held in January by the Kaffirs. At the sowing of the rice the Dyaks have three festivals: in the midst of the cutting down of the jungle, when it is set on fire, and the blessing of the seed before planting. At harvest are three more: feast of the first-fruits, of the middle of the harvest, and to secure the price of rice.

The next stage in the development of our ancestral holidays is one of great importance. In this one primitive astronomy begins, our calendar has its genesis, and domestic, civil, and political life begins to assume something of that order and regularity which

  1. Spencer's "Descriptive Sociology," No. VI, "American Races," page 17.