Scholla: A Bit of Folklore July 29, 1943

A Bit of Folklore 7/29/1943

In the writings of dialect poet, L.L. Grumbine, circa 1900, we find a reference to a day as “Abduhn Daag;” a day dedicated to the performance of farm tasks. Chief among these tasks was the mowing of the weeds in fence corners, or abduhn, taking off the briers and brambles. Grumbine mentions that the day set for this task was late in July, but fails to mention the specific date.

In the old Pennsylvania German Almanacs we find the 30th of July designated in the calendar of ‘saint’s days as “M. Abdon.” Abdon was one of the judges of Israel and was honored by the Catholic Church by having a day designated for him. The Protestant calendar marked the day July 30 as the day of Ruth.

Now we will hazard a theory and invite your analysis and criticism. The name Abdon lingered in the minds of the early settlers when they came to this country, 100 years after the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic significance of the term was forgotten as was the true significance of the word Abdon. But suiting action to the phonetic sound of the word the early farmer interpreted abdon as “abduhn” and the proper thing to remove from the farm at that season of the year is weeds and briers from fence corners in preparation for fall plowing.

Superstition! Yes, perhaps, But note, the fences were kept neat and clean.

Most of us know the legend of Maria’s annual journey “over the mountain” on July 2, but do we know that among our forebears she was believed to return early July 22 to examine the walls and ceilings of her home. If she found cobwebs she was highly displeased. Therefore, good housewives saw to it that all cobwebs were cleaned before July 22.

Superstiton! Yes, perhaps, but note, the cobwebs disappeared.

Woman using a scythe in a field. Photograph courtesy of the Historical Society of Berks County.
Woman using a scythe in a field. Photograph courtesy of the Historical Society of Berks County.
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