Thursday, July 29, 2010
Origins of the Scarecrow
The origins of the Scarecrow are enchanting and creepy. A familiar autumnal symbol which dates back further than I thought. Known by many names: Jack in the Straw, tattlebogle, scare bird to name a few.
The first Scarecrows that weren't actual people were made of wood by the Greeks around 2,500 years ago. The Scarecrow represented Priapus(god of horticulture and fertility) the disfigured well endowed son of Aphrodite(goddess of love). According to lore he was abandoned by his mother in a vineyard. The keeper took him in and noticed birds and other creatures were frightened by his appearance. This tale spread through the land and the Scarecrow legend began. Farmers began erecting Scarecrows throughout the world.
I was fascinated to learn that the Pennsylvania Dutch who's human formed Scarecrow was called Bootzaman, or Boggeyman. They often used two one was the Boogey wife called Bootzafrau.
The creepy part of Scarecrow lore is that they come to life at night. They move around and protect an owners property at all costs. I admit I have had Scarecrows move around on me. I think it was the wind or my sons. Or was it? Creepy!
Here's a wonderful Scarecrow Festival I found. Check your area you may have one near you!
The information found here is from several books and online. But a really good one which talks about the origins of many Autumn symbols is Ellen Dugan's Autumn Equinox The Enchantment of Mabon.