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The most obvious comparison would be to sacrifices made in the Old Testament of the bible. Animal and human sacrifices were routine during these times and were performed in order to be good omens for harvests, in accordance with what God told some prophets, etc. The sacrifice that the town made in "The Lottery" was supposedly for a good corn harvest. The saying that Old Man Warner noted in this story was, "Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon."
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