elder


elder
   Traditional attitudes towards the elder are contradictory. Many people thought it evil, and would never lop it, bring its flowers into the house, or make tools from its wood; to burn it would bring death, or the Devil, into the house. Its shade was thought to poison all other plants, and even humans sleeping nearby; also, a gash from an elder stick supposedly never heals, and babies rocked in elder-wood cradles always die young. Some said this was bercause *Judas hanged himself on an elder, others that it is 'a witch-tree' (cf. *Rollright Stones). In some districts anyone about to cut elder wood asked permission, though the formula used had a trick in it: 'Owd Gal, give me of thy wood, and Oi will give some of moine, when Oi graws inter a tree' (or, 'when I am dead', in other versions).
   In contrast, others thought it sacred, because the Cross was made of elder wood; it would never be struck by lightning, and one near a house would drive away all evil, especially witches. Its leaves or twigs, carried in the pocket, were a defence against witchcraft and a cure for rheumatism; a necklace of its twigs prevented fits.
   Elderflower tea and elderberry wine were good for coughs, colds, and fevers, and the bark boiled in milk for jaundice; the leaves were used in poultices and ointments, for example for grazes and for eczema. The smell of the leaves repels flies and wasps, so elder bushes were planted outside the windows of dairies and larders, and round outdoor lavatories.
   ■ Vickery, 1995: 118-26; Hatfield, 1994; Opie and Tatem, 1989: 127-9.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Elder — is a surname. It may also refer to older people or to:In religion: * Elder (administrative title), position of authority * Elder (Christianity), person valued for his wisdom who accordingly holds a particular position of responsibility in a… …   Wikipedia

  • Elder — ist die englische Form des Wortes Ältester und bezeichnet: ein Amt in verschiedenen christlichen Konfessionen, siehe dazu auch Presbyter ein Amt in der Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzten Tage, siehe Priestertum (Kirche Jesu Christi der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Elder — El der, n. [OE. ellern, eller, AS. ellen, cf. LG. elloorn; perh. akin to OHG. holantar, holuntar, G. holunder; or perh. to E. alder, n.] (Bot.) A genus of shrubs ({Sambucus}) having broad umbels of white flowers, and small black or red berries.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • elder — elder, eldest, older, oldest 1. Elder and eldest mean the same as older and oldest but they are much narrower in their range of use, being applicable only to people and only as nouns or attributive adjectives (before nouns). You can say his elder …   Modern English usage

  • Elder — Eld er, n. [AS. ealdor an elder, prince, fr. eald old. See {Old}, and cf. {Elder}, a., {Alderman}.] 1. One who is older; a superior in age; a senior. 1 Tim. v. 1. [1913 Webster] 2. An aged person; one who lived at an earlier period; a predecessor …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ELDER — (Heb. זָקֵן, zaken). In Israel, as among all other ancient peoples, the elder is not only a person of advanced age, but also a man of distinct social grade (cf. šībum in Akkadian, senator in Latin, geron in Greek, and sheikh in Arabic). The… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Elder — Eld er, a. [AS. yldra, compar. of eald old. See {Old}.] 1. Older; more aged, or existing longer. [1913 Webster] Let the elder men among us emulate their own earlier deeds. Jowett (Thucyd. ) [1913 Webster] 2. Born before another; prior in years;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • elder — elder1 [el′dər] adj. [ME < OE (Mercian) eldra, ældra, compar. < base of ald, eald, OLD] 1. born or brought forth earlier than another or others; exceeding another in age; senior; older 2. Obs. of longer standing or superior rank, position,… …   English World dictionary

  • Elder — Elder, 1) Sir Thomas, austral. Großkaufmann und freigebiger Förderer der Erforschung von Süd und Westaustralien, geb. 1818 in Kirkcaldy (Schottland), gest. 7. März 1897 in Adelaïde (Südaustralien), wanderte 1854 nach Südaustralien aus, betrieb… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • elder — ‘older’ [OE] is not, of course, the same word as elder the tree name [OE]. The former began life in prehistoric Germanic as *althizon, the comparative form of *althaz ‘old’. Gradually, the vowel i had an effect on the preceding vowel a, and by… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • elder — Ⅰ. elder [1] ► ADJECTIVE ▪ (of one or more out of a group of people) of a greater age. ► NOUN 1) (one s elder) a person of greater age than oneself. 2) a leader or senior figure in a tribe. 3) an official or minister in certain Protestant… …   English terms dictionary