Monday, 30 July 2012

Legends, traditions and stories from Dordogne – Périgord and other areas!

The Dordogne “lébérou”
 Each French region has its own stories, traditions and superstitions. In Périgord, there is much to say about the “lébérou”. 

The “lébérou” was a scary, hairy and mean creature, roaming the countryside and towns at night, in a way the equivalent of a wolf. It was looking for preys, people walking out at night. Today, many names of hamlets and “lieudits” can be etymologically explained as they derive from the word “lébérou” such as: « mas du loup », « gratteloup » etc…

It is probably the legend of “Burgou”, born Jean Gourinchas in the Limousin region in 1811, which is best known. As a rural delinquent working with a group of thieves in the XIX century, he spread terror around the Limousin region for years …. to end up a local hero whose name still comes up today.

Pine trees during a Périgourdin wedding. This tradition started at the end of the XIX century. The wedding festivities used to begin on Thursday, a few days before the actual wedding day. On that day, the village men used to go to the forest around the village to cut down a few pine trees. These trees were then planted in front of the parents’ homes, the town hall, the church and the party venue.

Today, it is still common to see little pine trees decorated with pink and white crepe paper, planted in front of houses, at streets’ intersections indicating a wedding did take place recently or will soon.

In Holland, the same tradition existed: the pine trees represented luck and fertility for the newlywed couple.

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