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ANTTQUARIAN NOTICES. 459
commonly yeelded, was anciently called Oerst, the name of barley being given unto it by reason of the drink therewith made, called beer; and from beerlegh it came to be berlegh, and from berlegh to barley. So in like manner beerheym,— to wit, the overdecking or covering of beer,—came to be called berham, and afterwards barm, having since gotten I wot not how many names besides."
The name of Haligemonath, i.e. holy month, was given to it, according to a Saxon menology in Wanley's addition to Hicks, "for that our forefathers, the while they heathens were, in this month celebrated their devil-gild." These devil-gilds (deofol-gild) were the sacrificial gilds of heathenism, and to them, according to Wilda and Lappenberg, may be traced the origin of the municipal system of the Saxons, for they seem to have combined the double character of a feast and of a court-day for settling disputes and trying offences, the priests exercising the criminal jurisdiction and lending it the consecration of religion. Hence the Christians condemned them under the name of devil-gilds, and would fain have forbidden the people from feasting in honour of the demons, as they chose to term it; but amongst the German race it was a difficult matter to put them down altogether.
Holy Hood Day, September 14th.—A custom peculiar to this day seems to have been the going into the wood a nutting. Thus in the old lay of Grim, the Collier of Croydon:
This day they say is called Holy-Rood Day,
St. Michael and all the Holy Angels—Michaelmas Day; September 29th.—St. Michael has obtained the honour of this day from its being the anniversary of the dedication of a church to him on Mount Garganus, or Mount St. Angelo, a mountain in Apulia.
The custom of eating geese upon this day has been a sad puzzle to antiquarians, and to the present time no reasonable cause has been assigned for it. Some have suggested that it may have arisen from the fact of geese just now being in high season; but this seems to be rather a cutting of the knot than an untying of it. That, like most of our other customs and festivals, it has been derived from Paganism, I have no doubt whatever, though the connecting link in the chain is now lost to us. The goose, as we all know, was amongst the Egyptians sacred to Isis and Osiris, and amongst the Romans to Juno and Priapus, and when we consider that in so many instances we find the prototypes of the saints in the gods and goddesses of heathendom, there seem to be strong grounds for suspecting that Saint Michael is here only occupying the place, and receiving the honours of some pagan deity.
Henry III. born, 1207.
The fading many-colour'd woods,
The chief business of nature at this season, as far as concerns the vegetable world, appears to be dissemination. Plants have gone through the progressive stages of springing, flowering, and seeding, have at length brought to maturity the rudiments of a future progeny, which are now to be deposited in the fostering bosom of the earth. This being performed, the parent vegetable, if of the herbaceous kind, either totally perishes, or dies down to the root; if a tree or shrub, it casts all those tender leaves that the spring and summer had put forth. Seeds are scattered by the hand of nature in various manners. Those of them which are furnished with plumes, or wings, are dispersed far and wide, by the high winds which rise about this time. Hence plants with such seeds are of all others the most generally to be met with; as dandelion, groundsel, ragwort, thistles, &c. Others, by means of hooks with which they are furnished, lay hold of passing animals, and are thus carried to distant