To the early agrarian societies the first of August signalled the beginning of the harvest season, the time
when the first grains were harvested and many fruits and vegetables became ripe. It was the time to honor
the mighty sun god and the gods of the grain fields by ritualistically sacrificing the first grains to ensure the
continuity of life.
On Lammas or Loaf Mass Day when village life revolved around the growing of the grain, this
was the day the first sheaves of grain were brought in from the field and baked into the first loafs from the
new grain crop. These loaves were blessed, broken into quarters, and left to guard the grain that had been
As harvest season progressed it was believed that the spirit of the field moved from crop to crop
and that it became homeless when the last sheafs were cut. So at the end of October, when the last of the
crop was
harvested, the grains were treated with special honor and made into a dolly, a hollow shape that
allowed the spirit of the field to spend the winter in the home of the maker. Though corn was a staple to the
people of the New World, it did not appear in Europe until after the Europeans came to the Americas. The
corn dollies of Europe were fashioned from the last sheaf of wheat or other cereal crops, kept for the winter
and then were plowed into the first furrow of the new season so the grain goddess could return again to the

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How to make your own Corn Dolly

You will need:
bag of cornhusks

Soak cornhusks in a sink or bowl of water until they are soft
and pliable. Next take four of the cornhusks and stack them
together with the ends pointed down. Then take your string
and tie the straight ends together tightly as shown in figure

Trim and round the edges with scissors. This forms the
inside of the dolls head. Figure 2

Turn upside down and pull long ends of husks down over the
trimmed edges. Figure 3

Take the string and tie form the neck. Figure 4

Now we are going to add her arms by taking another husk
and flatten it. Roll this husk into a tight cylinder and tie
each end with string. Figure 5
Fit the arms inside of the long husks, just below the neck
tie with string, as shown in figure 5 to form a waist.

Drape a husk around the arms and upper body in a
criss-cross pattern to form shoulders. Take four or five
husks, straight edges together, and arrange around waist.

Finish off the doll by tying small strips of husk around the
neck and waist to hide the string. Small scraps of cloth may
be used to dress the doll
The Corn Dolly
figure 1
figure 2
figure 3
figure 4
figure 4
figure 5
History Note: corn (n.1) refers to a "grain,"
Old English corn, from Proto-Germanic
*kurnam "small seed" (source also of Old
Frisian and Old Saxon korn "grain," Middle
Dutch coren, German Korn, Old Norse korn,
Gothic kaurn), from PIE root *gre-no- "grain."
The sense of the Old English word was "grain
with the seed still in" (as in barleycorn)
rather than a particular plant.  - The
Etymology Dictionary

When we read of Rome or Greece and the
Corn-Mother, Demiter, Annona, or Ceres the
"Corn"  being named is whatever cereal grain
was in common use primarily:  wheat, barley,
oats, flax, or millet.