When ignorance and fear were faced with danger, our ancestors struggled for understanding. Little wonder therefore that the belief in the existence of spirits sympathetic or antagonistic to people’s daily struggles gave rise to superstitions. Surrounded on all sides by forces that seemed incomprehensible, people tried prayers and practices they hoped would compel the forces of nature to look favourably upon them.
Some traditional beliefs and popular superstitions surrounding conception, pregnancy, childbirth and early years growth in Brittany.
The novena of Candlemas was once a devotion popularly believed to reveal one’s true love. In Brittany, a curious legend merges this belief with a more ancient tradition; the power of the fairy mirror.
Marriage, whether motivated by romantic idealism or social necessity was a key concern for the people of rural Brittany. A number of unusual customs and superstitions once surrounded marriage and the quest for love.
Considerable importance was once attached to milk in Brittany; it played a vital role in the people’s diet and livelihood. A number of once popular superstitious beliefs surrounded it; including practices to preserve cows from the evil spells cast by witches.
Scattered throughout the folklore of Brittany are references to secret, magical plants possessing extraordinary properties. Grasses that allow you to understand the languages of beasts or to find hidden treasures; grasses that cut iron and those that take you to oblivion!
Sometimes venerated, sometimes vilified; representing good luck or seen as an ill omen. The black cat has long enjoyed a turbulent relationship with humanity and features strongly in the world’s folklore. This is especially true here in Brittany.
Brittany has the greatest concentration of megalithic sites in the world. These megaliths range from single standing stones to complex alignments stretching for miles and massive man-made tumuli the size of a small hill. Older than the written word, their meanings remain clouded in mystery, shrouded in superstition and folklore.
Forecasting the weather has always been one of mankind’s most vital concerns. The observation of weather patterns and their effect on the cultivation of crops gave rise to many popular folk beliefs and superstitions in Brittany.
Once common throughout Europe, the arrival of midsummer was celebrated from time immemorial by the lighting of massive communal bonfires, covering the countryside with a multitude of glowing points of light; an ancient practice that continued in Brittany well into living memory.