Religious Beliefs. France recognizes the separation of church and state, so there is no state religion. Catholicism and Protestantism are the two largest religions within France, although virtually all world religions are represented. The saints play an important role in certain parts of the southwest as guardians of the crops. Agricultural modernization has done much to eliminate traditional ceremonies associated with planting and the harvest. Periodically, these ceremonies reappear as orchestrated by local bureaus of tourism. Important holidays are Christmas, New Year's Day, Easter, May Day, Ascension Day, and Independence Day.
Religious Practitioners. Apart from the clergy of the established religions in France, there are numerous practitioners representative of pagan religions. Witchcraft, for example, is practiced in certain rural sectors of the Aquitaine. Arts. There is tremendous diversity within the southwest with respect to local arts. Today, the arts are dominated by artisans from all over France who have made the southwest their home. Some of the traditional arts are kept alive by local bureaus of tourism.
Medicine. France has a fully Westernized system of Medicine with excellent social services subsidized by the government. In the countryside, many traditional healers carry on their trades with explanations of illness in moral rather than exclusively medical terms.
Death and Afterlife. The Catholic and Protestant churches have done much to shape attitudes toward death and an afterlife. However, the rituals surrounding death and disposal of bodies have been thoroughly modernized and medicalized and are now largely carried out by undertakers.