With working hours that traditionally aligned to the hours of daylight, the time available for pastimes and sports was, at best, limited to the Breton peasants of days gone by. This narrow opportunity was limited further by the often isolated nature of rural dwellings and the poor transport infrastructure that connected communities. It is therefore unsurprising that people took full advantage of the opportunities offered by major communal events and celebrations, such as weddings, saint’s pardons and quarterly markets, to amuse themselves in competitive field sports and games of strength and skill.
For over two centuries, a remarkable phenomenon was once noted in central Brittany; a seemingly spontaneous outbreak of barking women that disappeared as suddenly as it had first appeared. The reasons for these strange behaviours have, at times, been attributed to causes ranging from demonic possession to sexual frustration.
A look at some of the rare, rude and unusual elements of Brittany’s unique religious heritage.