France Folklore Part III

France Folklore 3

A section of folklore that has not yet been thoroughly studied is that of popular games for adults and children. Historically this study is based on the long list of Rabelais, who in the Pantagruel enumerates the games with which the boy Gargantua played. Medieval documents also allow us to ascertain that certain games still in use were already known in the century. XII, e.g. that of the soule (leather ball filled with bran), one of the ancestors of modern football (see soccer), and that of the crosse (the curved stick at one end) or the choule (the ball) from which cricket derives(v.). It is probable that the English learned these games in the Hundred Years War; later, they systematized them. Likewise from the jeu de paume, game of the ball thrown first with the palm of the hand (hence the name), then with a rachet, and which was “long” or “short”, depending on whether it was played in an open or closed place, modern tennis (v.). Some popular games have acquired great fame today: the game of pelota (v.), Or ball to the wall, which is played with a special instrument, the chistera, is a game typical of the Basques, in which young people still practice in all the villages. Sports games (such as the “bar” or the bear “) are replaced by authentic sports. Only games already known to the Romans have been preserved in the schools of the villages, and which are the simplest: the so-called” ossicini “(osselets), who throw themselves into the air, collecting them once on the back and the other on the palm of the hand, the skipping rope, the hoop and the various games with the ball.

Popular medicine and pharmacy still belong to folklore. For the most part, the medicines used in the countryside come from formulas and pharmacopoeias of past centuries, which in turn had taken a lot from antiquity, especially from Pliny. But, alongside this element, the magical one survives, which sometimes comes from classical antiquity, sometimes formed in those centuries of the Middle Ages or the modern age in which witches were still believed. Witchcraft still exists in the French countryside, but only in the most backward cultural strata of the population.

According to Homosociety, popular cuisine should not be forgotten either. Over the last few years, thanks to motoring, a whole literature has arisen on this topic and restaurants or trattorias have been established in all the big cities that make regional cuisine for tourists. The French have always been very greedy and the variety of climates and products of the soil has made it possible to make cooking, even in the countryside, a true art. The Provencal, Basque, Bordeaux, Lyonnaise, Savoyard, Burgundian, Flemish, Breton, etc. they have their own characteristics and some dishes are typical of certain regions: so it has been possible to establish a real culinary geography of France, thus demonstrating the ingenuity of those peasants.

Types of houses. – They are many; however the Demangeon reduces them to 4 main ones. The maison élémentaire or simple house brings together in a single single-storey building all the rooms that are used for men, livestock and agricultural tools; Void built in both regions plaines both in bocages, and assumes a system in which agriculture is coupled breeding on a small extension of land. Of this kind are the houses of Lorraine, with low roofs generally covered with bricks, which form villages that extend along a wide road, having the dunghill in front of them. This is how the oldest Breton farmhouses appear, isolated in the middle of the bocage. There maison en ordre dispersé has separate buildings for various uses, at a certain distance from each other. The most notable example is observed in Lower Normandy (Pays de Caux): the various buildings of the farm rise here and there in the middle of the plant, lawn with rows of fruit trees. Between the two types mentioned, there is an intermediate one, very common in the north and center of France, which has very distinct buildings, but grouped around a courtyard that is almost always square and sometimes closed by a door. Such are the farmhouses gathered in villages in many parts of Picardy, the French Vexin, Valois, Hurepoix and Beauce. On the side of the street they have only facades without windows and large doors. This type is also observed in the Saone valley (Bresse), in the most fertile parts of Auvergne, etc. The maison en hauteur it is the type of house typical of the south and of the mountains: with the exception of Savoy and a part of the Dauphiné, it is very common in almost all the French Alps, as well as in Provence and the Cévennes, in the Languedoc and in most of the Pyrenees. Its characteristic is to have at least one floor above the ground floor; this has several offices (almost always cellar or stable), depending on the type of life of the residents. The house is on the first floor, but in the mountains, where the breeding is of utmost importance, a part of it is occupied by the barn, which has an entrance on the same level at the rear of the house, located on a sloping slope. from 10 ° to 20 °.

For other ethnographic information, see in paragraph Geography: ethnic characteristics of the population, rural habitat, etc.

France Folklore 3