Fête and Frost


It’s Saint Vincent, the patron saint of wine growers, and local villages are holding dances, processions and other activities to give luck to the new season.  Traditionally it is the start of the vine pruning, but with labour costs high and electric pruners available, growers have been seen cutting back the old stems for more than a month now.

Frost

Frost on winter stems - Chabris 31/1/2010

St. Vincent was an early Christian martyr, who died under torture on 22nd January 304. Why he should be honoured be wine growers is the subject of many theories including one I like: that his donkey eat the new vine shoots while he was chatting to some workers. Come the fruiting, it was noticed that the nibbled vines were more productive and pruning was invented.

One of the things I like about rural France is the connection of the people to the soil and the seasons. On the 2nd February we have the Chandeleur, one of several pancake and beignets (doughnut) days in the calendar, using up the last of the flour before it spoils. It is the traditional start of the working year in the fields after the enforced break caused by winter.

Folks watch the weather carefully at this time of the year.  If the bears wake up and see a clear night sky, they lick their paws and go back to sleep. Expect another 40 days of winter. If, on the other hand they look out of their shelters to see clouds, rain or snow, hibernation is over and winter has ended. Dew at Chandeleur is another good sign. There are not a lot of bears around these days, so you have to look out yourself.

Frost in the Berry

Frosty morning in the Berry, central France

Folks watch the weather carefully at this time of the year.  If the bears wake up and see a clear night sky, they lick their paws and go back to sleep; expect another 40 days of winter. If, on the other hand they look out of their shelters to see clouds, rain or snow, hibernation is over and winter has ended. Dew at Chandeleur is another good sign. There are not a lot of bears around these days, so you have to look out for yourself.

Tossing the pancake has to be done properly, with a gold coin held in your spare hand. It is best to have one land on top of the wardrobe (don’t ask, I have no idea!) and if you go out to visit friends make sure you’ve eaten your own pancake at home first. Cooked pancakes are round and golden like the sun the farmers need to grow their crops.

Advertisements

One thought on “Fête and Frost

  1. Rather superb entry, definitely useful stuff. Never ever considered I’d find the facts I need right here. I have been looking everywhere in the internet for some time now and had been starting to get discouraged. Fortunately, I happened across your blog and received precisely what I was searching for.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s