The Folklore of Infant Deaths: Burials, Ghosts and Changelings
Literary and artistic treatments of childhood death often highlight the pathos of the theme, drawing upon imagery of innocence, angelic sweetness, and the blighting of early promise, consoled by the firm hope of heavenly peace. Popular customs may express similar attitudes, as when babies are buried in white coffins, or carried to their graves by young girls dressed in white, rather than by adults in black, as was common in Victorian Britain. In present-day Chile, wakes held for young children are called velorios de angelito, and the small bodies are displayed dressed in white, and sometimes wearing a white crown or a string of pearls, to show that the child’s soul is counted among the angels,1 an attitude ultimately, no doubt, based upon Gospel passages in which Jesus stresses the purity of children.
KeywordsDead Child Folk Belief Loeb Classical Library High Atlas Mountain Stone Curlew
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 2.Jacqueline Simpson, Scandinavian Folktales (London: Penguin Books, 1988), pp. 81–2.Google Scholar
- 3.Judith Devlin, The Superstitious Mind: French Peasants and the Supernatural in the Nineteenth Century (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1987), pp. 52, 64–6.Google Scholar
- 4.E. and M. Radford and Christina Hole, The Encyclopedia of Superstitions (London: Hutchinson, 1980 ppbk), p. 346.Google Scholar
- 13.Margaret Killip, The Folklore of the Isle of Man (London: B.T. Batsford, 1975), p. 70.Google Scholar
- 14.Robert Chambers, Popular Rhymes of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1870), p. 334.Google Scholar
- 16.Viktor Waschnitius, Percht, Holda, und verwandte Gestalten (Wien, 1913), p. 18.Google Scholar
- 17.John Lindow, Swedish Legends and Folktales (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1978), pp. 190–1.Google Scholar
- 19.Jerome Freedman, Miracles and the Pulp Press during the English Revolution (London: University College Press, 1993), p. 31.Google Scholar
- 21.Gershom Scholem, Kabbalah (Jerusalem: Keter Publishing, pbk edn, 1977), pp. 356–61.Google Scholar
- 24.Norman Cohn, Europe’s Inner Demons (Brighton: University of Sussex Press, 1973)Google Scholar
- 27.Jean-Claude Schmitt, The Holy Greyhound (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 5–6.Google Scholar