The Traditional Children's Games of England Scotland
& Ireland In Dictionary Form - Volume 2

With Tunes(sheet music), Singing-rhymes(lyrics), Methods Of Playing with diagrams and illustrations.

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176                                 SALLY WATER
indulgences of the lovers, as in the Tong and Scottish versions xxxii., xxxiii., and xxxiv.
(e) In considering the probable origin of the game, the first thing will be to ascertain as far as possible what ideas the words are intended to convey. Taking note of the results of the analysis, so far as they show the corruptions which have taken place in the words, it seems clear that though it is not possible to restore the original words, their original meaning is still preserved. This is, that they accompanied the performance of a marriage ceremony, and that a chief feature of this ceremony was connected with some form of water-worship, or some rite in which water played a chief part. Now it has been noted before that the games of children have preserved, by adaptation, the marriage ceremony of ancient times (e.g., "Merry ma Tansa," "Nuts in May," "Poor Mary," " Round and Round the Village "); but this is the first instance where such an important particularisation as that implied by water-worship qualifies the marriage ceremony. It is therefore necessary to see what this exactly means. Mr. Hartland, in his Perseus (i. 167-9), draws attention to the general significance of the water cere­monial in marriage customs, and Mr. F. B. Jevons, in his intro­duction to Plutarch's Roma?ie Questions, and in the Transactions of the Folk-lore Congress, 1891, deals with the subject in refer­ence to the origin of custom obtaining among both Aryan and non-Aryan speaking people. In this connection an important consideration arises. The Esthonian brides, on the morning after the wedding, are taken to make offerings to the water spirit, and they throw offerings into the spring (or a vessel of water), overturn a vessel of water in the house, and sprinkle their bridegrooms with water. The Hindoo offerings of the bride were cast into a water vessel, and the bride sprinkles the court of the new house with water by way of exorcism, and also sprinkles the bridegroom (Jevons, loc. cit., p. 345). Here the parallel be­tween the non-Aryan Esthonian custom and the Aryan Hindoo custom is very close, and it is a part of Mr. Jevons' argument that, among the Teutons, with whom alone of Aryan speaking peoples the Esthonians came into contact, the custom was limited to the bride simply stepping over a vessel of water. There is







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