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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/636

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

to no one. The good woman must not do any sewing in the decrease of the moon, for the stitches will not hold; farming-tools must not be left in the field, because, it is believed, if they are, crops will not again thrive there. If an unbaptized child is exposed to the moonlight, it will lose its luck for its whole life. If one points at the moon with the finger he will suffer from swellings around the nail; and whoever spits at the moon will lose all his teeth. These beliefs, too, are international. The same is the case with the religious notions about the new moon. Sorceries of every kind, to be successful, must be performed on Sunday night of the new moon. The hair must be cut only in the increase of the moon, otherwise there is danger of getting headache. If a person returning home in the evening sees the full moon, he ought to take some money out of his purse, and utter an incantation that will make it increase a hundred times during the month.

The moon is also supposed to have an influence over animals and plants. Cucumbers become very large by lying three nights in moonshine. Trees, of which it is intended to make timber for a house, must be felled only in the full moon, else some one in the family will die very soon. Sheep must be sheared in the increase of the moon, for the wool is then longest and most durable. Swine should be slaughtered at the same season, when they are at their fattest and in the most healthy condition.

What Tacitus says of the Germans, that they believe that certain things are best undertaken in the new moon or before its full, is also applicable to the South Slavic superstitions. In both German and South Slavic popular lore, the moon is only a fetich, and South Slavic belief at least affords no ground for the supposition that it is honored as a divinity; and I have no hesitation in declaring that the finely drawn speculations of Slavic mythologists respecting the moon are only learned but vain dreams.

We may remark, in conclusion, that peasants are wont to predict the approaching phases of the weather from the color of the moon. They have the belief that the moon is like a sponge, and can instantly absorb the clouds, and as quickly let them loose again to darken the sky. If the moon shines silvery clear, fine weather is at hand; if it looks reddish, there will be wind; and a pale moon is a sign of impending rain. Some believe that if the horn of the new moon shows a little spot, the weather at full moon will be foul; if there is no spot, it will be fair till the end of the month.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from Das Ausland.

 


 
Prof. Nehring believes that the dog is descended from various still-surviving species of wolves and jackals. It is not particularly difficult, he says, to tame jackals, and many attempts to domesticate wolves have been made in recent times.