The humble honey bee has always enjoyed a close, symbiotic relationship with humanity. Brittany possesses a rich tradition of beliefs and superstitions surrounding bees and beekeeping.
Tag Archives: superstitions
The Healing Stones of Brittany
The mysterious nature and brooding presence of the thousands of prehistoric megaliths that litter the landscape of Brittany have long fascinated both locals and visitors alike. Veneration of the region’s standing stones and ancient monuments continued for centuries after the arrival of Christianity. Perhaps the mystical aura of these massive blocks of stone retained ancient associations with death and the afterlife or possibly the stones held the folk-memory of a ritual significance once important in the religion of the later Celts? In addition to supernatural forces, the region’s ancient stones were also believed to possess the power to influence the lives of the common people. This is perhaps most clearly manifested in the many folk beliefs and old superstitions that linked the stones with good fortune and those most important, yet often most elusive, fundamental human needs: true love and good health.
The Cult of Rock and Stone
In Brittany, it seems almost impossible to travel more than a few miles without seeing some form of ancient megalith. While many are older than the written word, their real meanings today remain clouded in mystery, shrouded in superstition and folklore.
Some Superstitions of May Day
Representing one of the key stages in the life of the rural peasant farmer, the arrival of May announced the appearance of summer and the renewal of the land. Nature’s re-awakening reminded the Breton farmer of the fragility of the boundary that separated success from failure; the safety and joy of an abundant harvest or the misery of a winter spent in dire straits. Little wonder then that such notions of rebirth and new growth gave rise to superstitions and rituals designed to celebrate and encourage fertility and to protect the community against all opposing forces.
Some Customs of May Day
May Day is known as La Fête du Travail (Workers’ Day) in France and celebrated with a public holiday. It has become an occasion to be seen to campaign for workers’ rights and social justice but the date also carries a much older tradition here; it is also la Fête du Muguet, when sprigs of Lily of the Valley are presented to loved ones. However, in Brittany, the custom of using green foliage to express hope at this time of year extends back to antiquity.
Customs and Superstitions of Easter
Across Brittany, a number of curious customs and strange superstitions were once very closely attached to the principal Christian festival of Easter and the Holy Week that led up to it.
The Superstitions of Sailors
The sea has always played an important part in the lifeblood of Brittany; its waters have nourished and sustained generations of Bretons since time immemorial but the price paid has often been so very high. Little wonder then that, in a land once seeped in legend and superstition, those hardy souls that risked their lives upon the roaring waves surrounded themselves in practices designed to preserve them from misfortune.
Some Breton Love Spells
Spells to attract that most elusive of treasure, true love, have been noted in disparate cultures across the world since the earliest times. It is therefore no surprise that in the Brittany of yesterday, spells and charms to inspire romantic desire were also once quite widespread.
A New Year is Begun
The constant sequence of religious and secular festivals and seasonal practices forms an endless, familiar, chain that repeats itself around our lives each year. This continual renewal marks a completion of the annual cycle but where should we rightly place the beginning and the end?
The Magic of Christmas
In Brittany, the magic of Christmas night was once said to have been so complete that no evil could act. It was a moment when only the son of man and the toad slept; a time when animals spoke to each other in the tongues of men and secret treasures were revealed.