This French Christmas character, the ‘whipping father’, said to accompany Santa on his rounds on 6th December, is fortunately no longer heard of much in French tradition.

Le Poilu, informal term for a French World War I infantryman, and literally meaning ‘hairy one’ was also used to describe soldiers in the time of Napoleon Bonaparte. (The term ‘grognard’ (grumbler) was also common.)

Many are the stories of ‘encantades’ or ‘bruixas’, (witches) in the history of the P-O, and believers in witchcraft protected themselves with a variety of different methods, including painting their windows blue, keeping bread in the drawer, washing undergarments in water from seven different sources, never leaving nail clippings or cut hair on the floor, putting their shirts on backwards…..

On 7th November 1659, the kingdoms of France and Spain signed the Treaty of the Pyrenees, which ended the 30 years war between supporters of Louis XIV of France and those of Philip IV of Spain.

An anonymous 12th century sculptor, the Master of Cabestany was not recognised until the 1930s when a Romanesque-style tympanum was unearthed during renovation work at the parish church of Cabestany.

The Via Domitia was the first of the vast network of roads in Gaul (France) built by the Romans, crossing southern France to link Italy and Spain.

The 15th August is the festival of l’Assomption – a jour férié (public holiday) celebrated by Catholics throughout France and commemorating the departure of Mary from this life and the assumption of her body into heaven.

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