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among the Indians of North and South America, spring is the most usual
season, while in Africa the yam harvest of autumn is the season chiefly
selected. There are, of course, numerous exceptions to this rule, and it
is common to find both seasons observed. Taking, indeed, a broad view of
festivals throughout the world, we may say that there are four seasons
when they are held: the winter solstice, when the days begin to lengthen
and primitive man rejoices in the lengthening and seeks to assist it;
the vernal equinox, the period of germination and the return of life; the
summer solstice, when the sun reaches its height; and autumn, the period
of fruition, of thankfulness, and of repose. But it is rarely that we find
a people seriously celebrating more than two of these festival seasons.
In Australia, according to Mueller as quoted by Ploss and Bartels, marriage
and conception take place during the warm season, when there is greatest
abundance of food, and to some extent is even confined to that period.
Oldfield and others state that the Australian erotic festivals take place
only in spring. Among some tribes, Mueller adds, such as the Watschandis,
conception is inaugurated by a festival called _kaaro_, which takes place
in the warm season at the first new moon after the yams are ripe. The
leading feature of this festival is a moonlight dance, representing the
sexual act symbolically. With their spears, regarded as the symbols of the
male organ, the men attack bushes, which represent the female organs.
They thus work themselves up to a state of extreme sexual excitement.
Among the Papuans of New Guinea, also, according to Miklucho-Macleay,
conceptions chiefly occur at the end of harvest, and Guise describes the
great annual festival of the year which takes place at the time of the yam
and banana harvest, when the girls undergo a ceremony of initiation and
marriages are effected. In Central Africa, says Sir H.H. Johnston, in
his _Central Africa_, sexual orgies are seriously entered into at certain
seasons of the year, but he neglects to mention what these seasons are.
The people of New Britain, according to Weisser (as quoted by Ploss and
Bartels), carefully guard their young girls from the young men. At certain
times, however, a loud trumpet is blown in the evening, and the girls are
then allowed to go away into the bush to mix freely with the young men. In
ancient Peru (according to an account derived from a pastoral letter of
Archbishop Villagomez of Lima), in December, when the fruit of the
_paltay_ is ripe, a festival was held, preceded by a five days' fast.
During the festival, which lasted six days and six nights, men and women
met together in a state of complete nudity at a certain spot among the
gardens, and all raced toward a certain hill. Every man who caught up with
a woman in the race was bound at once to have intercourse with her.
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