Make a Corn Dolly

In traditional European pagan culture, it was believed that the spirit of the corn lived in the crop and would be made homeless by the harvest. Of course, as we know from our post on corn rituals, this would not have been “corn” as we know it today because it was a New World crop and wasn’t grown in Europe at this time. The term “corn” here actually refers to “grain,” such as wheat.

In any event, it was customary to take the last sheaf of the harvest and fashion it into a decorative dolly. The spirit of the grain would then spend the winter in this new home until it was time to plant again the next year. The corn dolly was plowed into the first furrow to ensure a good harvest of the new crop. In many places, these dollies have become—and remain—a popular art form. Some are very intricate, and bear little resemblance to a human figure.

Meanwhile, back in the New World, many Native American groups made dolls from natural materials, and one material that was commonly used was corn husks.

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Anadama Bread

In many ancient cultures, the late summer marked the first harvest, and was often celebrated with festivities involving grain–and especially corn. So, in keeping with that tradition, making this delicious bread has become one of my personal summertime rituals.

Strange Name, Delicious Bread

And about the name…kind of strange, right? I’ve heard slightly different versions of its origin, but the basic story goes something like this:

Many years ago, there was a hardworking fisherman. Every day he went out on his boat and stayed for hours, trying to get the biggest catch he could. And every night, when he finally dragged himself back to his modest cottage, he was famished. Unfortunately, his wife Anna was very lazy and often there was no dinner waiting for him.

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