Cock bashing

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

At the end of the harvest, when only the last sheaf of wheat was left standing in the field, Sorbs / Wends (Baltic Serbs) would decorate it with colourful ribbons and would shout: „Źins jo kokot- today is the day of the cock“, which means that the harvest was completed that day, and it was time for „cock bashing“…
What is „cock bashing“?…
In the past, the harvesters took a cock to the field on the last day of the harvest. There they would let him run around the field. Then they would catch him again, tie him and put him into a shallow hole in the ground. 

A beer barrel was placed about a hundred paces from the cock with its open plug hole pointed in the direction of the cock. Anyone desiring to try his hand at slaying the cock was blindfolded. The handle of a threshing flail was stuck into the barrel’s plug hole. The blindfolded young man would take the handle between his legs to determine the direction of the cock’s location. Then he placed the flail over his shoulder and walked towards the pit with the cock. When he thought he was standing over the pit, he would try to hit the cock with the flail. He had 3 tries. If a young man finally managed to hit and kill the cock, he was proclaimed to be the king of the harvest. Then, while still blindfolded, young maidens would circle around him, and he got to grab one to be his queen. Then the king of the harvest was lifted on the shoulders of the other young men, and was carried to the village in a festive procession…There they cooked the cock and ate it as part of the end of harvest party…

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Wheat wreath

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Harvest, 1902 painting by Serbian painter Nadežda Petrović

In Labor, northern Croatia, when the last sheaf of wheat was cut, it was thrown as high up as possible in the air with these words: „God give us bread as tall as this“. 

Then a wreath was made from the sheaf and wild flowers and was placed on the head of the most beautiful harvest girl. She would then take it to the field owner’s house. What this girl looked like can be seen on this picture from Ukraine where they had similar ritual.

In Ukraine it was important that the girl was also a virgin. This is in accordance with many other Slavic fertility rituals which directly link female fertility and Earth fertility. Earth being „Virgin mother“ is here represented by human virgin….

I Labor, the rest of the female harvesters would walk along with the girl carrying the wheat wreath singing:

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