To the early agrarian societies, the first of August signaled 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 gathered.
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 old 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 field.
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How to Make a Corn Doll
You will need:
Soak corn husks in a sink or bowl of water until they are soft and pliable. Next take
four of the corn husks and stack them together with the ends pointed down. Then
take your string and tie the straight ends together tightly as shown in figure 1.
Trim and round the edges with scissors. This forms the inside of the dolls head. See
Turn upside down and pull long ends of husks down over the trimmed edges. See
Take the string and tie form the neck. See 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. See figure 5. Insert the arms
through the long husks, just below where the neck is tied.
Then take another piece of string and tie it around the middle to form a waist. See
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 like a skirt
around her waist.
Finish off the doll by tying small strips of husk around the neck and waist to hide the