Folk Lore eBook

James Napier
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 190 pages of information about Folk Lore.
there are means whereby the fairies may be propitiated and induced to restore the real baby.  One of these methods is the following:—­The parents or friends of the stolen baby must take the fairy child to some known haunt of the fairies, generally some spot where peculiar soughing sounds are heard, where there are remains of some ancient cairn or stone circle, or some green mound or shady dell, and lay the child down there, repeating certain incantations.  They must also place beside it a quantity of bread, butter, milk, cheese, eggs, and flesh of fowl, then retire to a distance and wait for an hour or two, or until after midnight.  If on going back to where the child was laid they find that the offerings have disappeared, it is held as evidence that the fairies have been satisfied, and that the human child is returned.  The baby is then carried home, and great rejoicing made.  Mr. Rust states that he knew a woman who, when a baby, had been stolen away, but was returned by this means.



The next very important event in man’s life is marriage, and naturally, therefore, to this event there attached a multitude of superstitious notions and practices, many of which, indeed, do still exist.  The time when marriage took place was of considerable importance.  One very prevalent superstition, common alike to all classes in the community, and whose force is not yet spent, was the belief that it was unlucky to marry in the month of May.  The aversion to marrying in May finds expression in the very ancient and well-known proverb, “Marry in May, rue for aye,” and thousands still avoid marrying in this month who can render no more solid reason for their aversion than the authority of this old proverb.  But in former times there were reasons given, varying, however, in different localities.  Some of the reasons given were the following:—­That parties so marrying would be childless, or, if they had children, that the first-born would be an idiot, or have some physical deformity; or that the married couple would not lead a happy life, and would soon tire of each other’s society.  The origin of this superstition is to be found in ancient heathen religious beliefs and practices.  We have already noticed the ancient belief that the spirits of dead ancestors haunted the living, and I have given a formula whereby a single person could exorcise the ghosts of his departed relatives, and I have also mentioned that national festivals to propitiate the spirits of the dead were appointed by some nations.  Now, we find that among the Romans this national festival was held during the month of May, and during its continuance all other forms of worship were suspended, and the temples shut; and further, for any couple to contract marriage during this season was held to be a daring of the Fates which few were found hardy enough to venture.  Ovid says—­

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Folk Lore from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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