Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The 16th century report of Martin Luther is perhaps an apt introduction to the following saga. He relates that “…young maidens stripped themselves naked, flung themselves to the ground and prayed: O God, my God, O St. Andrew, give me a godly husband, show me tonight what manner of man shall wed me. One girl, he adds, was nearly frozen to death, but no man came.” (Quoted from the Oxford Book of Days, Oxford University Press). The time from St. Andrew’s Eve (November 29) until New Year’s Eve was a time for young maids to receive visions of their future husbands. Here is another Grimm’s saga about this custom:
Grimms’ Saga No. 118
On Christmas Eve in Coburg several maidens gathered together. They had a burning desire to see their future true love. The day before they had gathered and cut nine different types of wood. When midnight came, they made a fire on the hearth with this wood. The first girl threw off her clothes, tossed her blouse in front of the chamber door and spoke these words as she sat before the fire:
“Here I sit, completely starkers,
If only my dearest would come
And throw my blouse into my lap!”
When the blouse was thrown back into the room, the maiden caught a glimpse of the face of the person who would later became her suitor. The other girls also stripped themselves naked. But they threw out their blouses tangled together in a clump. The ghosts could not separate the pieces and began to make noises and crash about until the girls were quite frightened. They quickly poured water on the fire and crept back into bed, where they stayed until early in the morning. When they awoke they found their blouses torn into many thousands of little pieces.
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