Winterlore 20 – Saxon Lore – Divination for Maidens


In 1928 the daily paper (Riesaer Tageblatt, first published in 1848) added a weekly feature the Blätter zur Pflege der Heimatliebe, der Heimatforschung und des Heimatschutzes. Translated that would mean as much as Papers for fostering love of the home country, research of the home country and protection of the home country (in the sense of protecting history and tradition) – in short it was a feature focusing on social history, lore, tradition and archeology in and around Riesa. One of the authors is Alfred Mirtschin who was the first director of the local museum (funded in 1921).

The time between Christmas and 6th January was used as time to exercise various divination techniques. So writes Walter Schellhas in the edition of 8th December 1928, young women who wanted to know if they would get married in the year to come had to knock on the door of the chicken coop three times. In our area this apparently should be done on Andreastag, which is the night from 30th of November to 1st of December, that heralds the begin of Advent time. If the cock would stark clucking it was a good sign and the girl would get married in this year, if one of the chickens started clucking a wedding would be far off.

I told you earlier about Bleigiessen – led melting as a divination technique. The shapes the led formed were supposed to show a maiden the profession of her husband to be, as well as his Gestalt.

Another way to predict if a young woman would get married in the year to come, was: she had to throw a shoe over her head. Would the tip of the shoe show towards the living room, a groom would show up and the tip would even indicate from, which direction the groom would come.

Peeling an apple without breaking the skin, throwing this skin backwards over her head, will tell the maiden the first letter of the name of the groom to be. The apple skin was supposed to take the shape of this letter.


On that notion a wee story from the farm:

When I was young and would go into the kitchen garden to pick up parsley my granny would usually start chanting:

  • Petersilie Suppenkraut
  • Wächst in unserm Garten
  • Und die (insert name) ist die Braut
  • Kann nicht länger warten

Which translates into

  • Parsley soup herb
  • Grows in our garden
  • And (insert name) is the bride
  • Who would wait no longer

Once I got so annoyed that my granny kept singing it that I told her the meaning and origin of this rhyme. Parsley root was used for inducing abortion, so the bride who cannot longer wait was not a bride waiting for her wedding day, but to use the herb which would only be effective for a certain period of time. After that granny stopped singing this song, when I went to fetch parsley.




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