[From Manx Soc vol 16, 1869]


Midsummer festivities are observed in the Isle of Man on the eve of St. John the Baptist by lighting fires on the hill tops, and by the windward side of fields, so that the smoke might pass over the corn. So universal is this custom that as evening approaches it has the appearance of a general conflagration, and a stranger is surprised to see fires springing up in all directions around him, accompanied with the blowing of horns and other rejoicings. May-day is also ushered in by a similar custom, when two fires are made in honour of the pagan god " Baal," and the cattle are driven between those fires as an antidote against murram, or any pestilential distemper. It is also the usage. to put out the culinary fires on that day, and to rekindle them with some of the sacred fire.

The " bollan-feaill-eoin," the herb mugwort, is gathered on Midsummer Eve, and made into chaplets or circles, which are worn on the head of man and beast to preserve them against witchcraft and evil.

The great annual Tynwald court has been held for many centuries, at St. John's, on the 5th of July for the promulgation, from the top of the Tynwald Hill, of such new laws as may have passed the legislature. The Tynwald or Tinn-Vaal, the altar or fire of Baal, with various ceremonies connected therewith, is a remnant of Druidical usage. Baal was worshipped as the sun by the Phoenicians and others, and his name was regarded as a supreme god and ruler, and was the Apollo and Jupiter in the mythologies of Greeee and Rome, and whose worship and ceremonies were most widely extended over Northern and Western Europe. These fire festivals were not confined to one particular time, but appear, as we learn from various sources, to have been held at different seasons, as on the lst May, on St. John's Eve, or Midsummer Eve, on the lst November or Halloween, and at other times, when fires are to be seen as far as the eye can reach.


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