Chapter 48. The Corn-Spirit as an Animal : Section 4. The Corn-spirit as a Hare
Chapter 48. The Corn-Spirit as an Animal.
Section 4. The Corn-spirit as a Hare.
ANOTHER common embodiment of the corn-spirit is the hare. In Galloway the reaping of the last standing corn is called cutting the Hare. The mode of cutting it is as follows. When the rest of the corn has been reaped, a handful is left standing to form the Hare. It is divided into three parts and plaited, and the ears are tied in a knot. The reapers then retire a few yards and each throws his or her sickle in turn at the Hare to cut it down. It must be cut below the knot, and the reapers continue to throw their sickles at it, one after the other, until one of them succeeds in severing the stalks below the knot. The Hare is then carried home and given to a maidservant in the kitchen, who places it over the kitchen-door on the inside. Sometimes the Hare used to be thus kept till the next harvest. In the parish of Minnigaff, when the Hare was cut, the unmarried reapers ran home with all speed, and the one who arrived first was the first to be married. In Germany also one of the names for the last sheaf is the Hare. Thus in some parts of Anhalt, when the corn has been reaped and only a few stalks are left standing, they say, The Hare will soon come, or the reapers cry to each other, Look how the Hare comes jumping out. In East Prussia they say that the Hare sits in the last patch of standing corn, and must be chased out by the last reaper. The reapers hurry with their work, each being anxious not to have to chase out the Hare; for the man who does so, that is, who cuts the last corn, is much laughed at. At Aurich, as we have seen, an expression for cutting the last corn is to cut off the Hares tail. He is killing the Hare is commonly said of the man who cuts the last corn in Germany, Sweden, Holland, France, and Italy. In Norway the man who is thus said to kill the Hare must give hares blood, in the form of brandy, to his fellows to drink. In Lesbos, when the reapers are at work in two neighbouring fields, each party tries to finish first in order to drive the Hare into their neighbours field; the reapers who succeed in doing so believe that next year the crop will be better. A small sheaf of corn is made up and kept beside the holy picture till next harvest. 1