Buy this Book at Amazon.com
Folk-lore of the Holy Land, Moslem, Christian and Jewish, by J. E. Hanauer , at sacred-texts.com
A POPULAR CALENDAR AND SOME SAYINGS
Monday.--Go into debt for your food, but do not work on a Monday. Do not visit an infirm person on a Monday, for your doing so will augment his sufferings. If you spend any of your money on Monday morning you will be a loser the whole week through. Maidens fast on Mondays, in order that they may be soon
married; and old women in order that St Michael may be with them when they die.
Wednesday.--Every Wednesday has at least one unlucky hour.
Friday.--Whoever falls sick on a Friday will die. If a person is born on a Friday he will either die himself, or else his father or mother will. If a mother strike her son on the eye on a Friday, whilst standing on the door-step at the time when the muezzin calls to prayer, she causes the Jân to ride the child and drive him mad. The great underground river which runs past the Damascus gate stops running, in order to worship, on Fridays. Do not draw water from a well on Fridays at the time of the muezzin's call to prayer. Should you do so the Jân in the well will snatch away your intellect.
Saturday.--It is a meritorious act to visit (the graves of) the dead on Saturdays.
Kanûn el Awwal = December.
On St Barbara's Day (Dec. 4), water gushes out at the mouse-hole. Maidens put kohl to their eyes; and in every family corn is boiled. A plate of this boiled grain is set apart for each member of the household, relatives, friends, etc., respectively, and, with sugar and pomegranate seeds sprinkled over it, is put away for the night, in order that Mar Saba, whose day is that immediately after St Barbara's, may trample upon it and bless the household and the household stores.
The local form of the legend of St Barbara is curious and runs thus:--
"Barbara's father was a great Roman officer, a Pagan, who lived in the Kula‘a or Citadel at Jerusalem, where, it is said, his dwelling still exists. The daughter was converted to Christianity, and as she refused to recant, her father and brother were so angry that they shut her up for four days in a hot oven. When, at the end of the time they opened the oven, the maiden, to their great surprise, came forth alive and well. As she still refused to deny Christ it was resolved to boil her to death. A great cauldron full of water, was therefore put on the fire; but when it began to boil and the heathen were about to put Barbara in, it was found to be so full of wheat that there was no room for the saint. Her father and brother then took their swords and between them slew her, but were themselves struck by lightning immediately afterwards." St Barbara's Day is kept by Latins, Greeks, and Armenians.
Kanûn eth Thâni = January.
This month is dumb (i.e. damp and miserable) and so cold that the hens lay blood-stained eggs. On New Year's Day the table is left as it is, with the dishes and food upon it, after meals in order that the mighty ones amongst the Jân (El furrâs el Janìyeh) may deposit bags of gold upon it. On other days of the year, however, the table is not left in this condition. If it were it would be carried off by angels.
At the Feast of the Epiphany, the dough rises without being leavened, and leaven made from this dough must on no account be lent to anyone. Special graces are showered down at the Epiphany, and it is said that the trees on the banks of the Jordan adore the Saviour on this festival. (See "Animal and Plant-lore" chapter.) Whoever eats lentils during the twelve days following the Feast of the Nativity is sure to be smitten with the mange.
Shebât = February.
A smiter, a plunger, or wallower, and nevertheless with a summer-scent about him. No reliance can be placed on February. This is the month for cats to kitten. The sunshine of February sets the head throbbing, i.e. causes violent headaches.
Adâr = March.
Adâr is the father of earthquakes and showers. Save up your largest pieces of charcoal for your uncle Adâr. He will satisfy you with seven great snow-falls, not reckoning small ones. And yet, during Adâr, the shepherd can dry his drenched clothing without a fire. It is said that the sunshine of Adâr causes clothes hung out to dry to become exceedingly white. For this reason it is a favourite time for women to do their washing and more especially to wash their "azârs," i.e. the white sheets in which they envelop themselves when they go abroad. The sunshine of Adâr also makes the complexion fair. Therefore old women say, "The sunshine
of Shebât for my daughter-in-law (because it causes headache); that of Adâr for my daughter, (because it beautifies the complexion); and of Nisân (April) for my senility (because it brings fresh life and vigour). On the Festival of the Forty Martyrs it is customary to light forty wicks, placed in oil, in honour of those saints "who were Christians of the days of Nero. In order to force them to recant they were exposed naked the whole of a snowy night in Adâr, with revelry and festivity going on before their eyes in a palace in front of them; and they were informed that if during the night any of them desired to deny Christ, all he had to do was to enter the palace and join in the festivities. At midnight one of them did so; but his place was immediately taken by one of the Roman sentries, who thus proved his sincerity in confessing the Saviour. Next morning the whole party, whose number had thus been preserved intact, were found frozen to death." The three first days of Adâr are called "El Mustakridât" a name which means "Lent out ones," and is generally explained by the following legend:--
"An aged Bedawi shepherdess, keeping her flocks in one of the wadies trending downwards to the Dead Sea, was heard by Shebât, who is thought of as a personality, mocking him because he had failed to send rain. Furious at being thus derided Shebât said to Adâr, 'O my brother Adâr, I have only three days left me,
and they are not sufficient to enable me to be revenged on the old woman who has derided me. Lend me, therefore, three days of thine.' Adâr willingly granted his brother's request. Six days of heavy rain were the result, and the seyls, or winter-torrents from the hills swept the old woman and her flock into the sea." If the year is to be good, it depends upon Adâr. The Moslems say, "The meat and leben of Adâr are forbidden to the infidels," meaning that they are so good that the Christians must not taste them--a chuckle at the strict Fast of Lent.
Nisân = April.
Nisân is the life of mankind, i.e.
it revives and invigorates. During the rain-showers of Nisân, the bivalves (oysters) living at the bottom of the sea, rise to the surface and open their shells. As soon as a rain-drop falls into one of these open oysters, the shell closes and the creature sinks to the bottom. The rain-drop inside it becomes a pearl.
It is customary for people to pic-nic out during Nisân and drink milk at such pic-nics.
Iy-yâr = May.
Iy-yâr ripens the apricots and cucumbers. Serpents and partridges become white (I suppose that this means that during this month snakes change their skins and partridges moult).
Hezeran and Tammûz = June and July.
Boil the water in the cruze, i.e. these are hot months.
Ab = August.
The dreaded month. However, pluck the cluster (of grapes) and fear nought, i.e. the grapes are ripe, and may be eaten with impunity. Beware of holding a knife on Ab 29, the Day of the beheading of St John the Baptist.
Eylûl = September.
On the Eve of the Festival of the Cross (Holy Cross Day, Sept. 14th) it is customary to expose on the house-top during the night seven small heaps of salt, which respectively represent the seven months following Eylûl. By noticing next morning which of these heaps of salt is dampest it is possible to know in which months there will be heavy rain.
Tashrìn el Awwal and Tashrìn eth-thâni = October and November.
People born during these two months are swift to be angry.
In case of a death in the house, it is not permitted to sweep it for three days, lest other members of the household should die in consequence.
Be careful never to spill out water without "naming," otherwise the Jân may molest and stick to you. Beware never to step over a boy's head lest he either get a scabby head or die in consequence.
During the period between the Carnival and Palm Sunday, the souls (ghosts) of the departed have permission to visit their living friends.
Every odd number, and especially the number eleven, is unlucky.
It is better to meet a demon (kird) the first thing in the morning than to meet a man who has naturally a hairless face.
A one-eyed man is very difficult to get on with, and a man with a "kussa" or pointed goat's beard is more cunning than Iblìs himself.
Boils are the consequence of the sufferer's having attempted to count the stars. He who spills salt will suffer from tumours.
It is a sin to kill a turtle-dove because this bird was tinged with drops of the Saviour's blood at the Crucifixion.
If a quarrel is proceeding, and a person present turns a shoe upside down, the strife will become more violent.
Tall people are simpletons.
If a dog howls at night under the window of a house, it is a sign that someone in that house will die.
Should you hear a dog howling at night turn a shoe upside down and he will be sure to stop.
NOTE.--The overturning of a shoe has been explained to me as an act of respect towards the Jân. When Allah is worshipped the face is directed towards Him and the soles of the feet are furthest away. By turning the sole of a shoe, therefore, furthest away from the Jân, one implies a respect bordering on worship. The demons accept the compliment and are mollified, and Allah, who is good, and knows that no insult is intended to Him, does not resent the act.