Auvergnats - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs and Practices. Roman Catholicism is the major religion among Auvergnats, and pockets of the Region are extremely devout. The Diocese of Clermont-Ferrand has a long and important history. Several Romanesque churches are found in the Auvergne, notably at Saint Nectaire and Orcival. Each commune and parish has its own patron saint and holds an annual patron saint festival. Easter (Pâques) and All Saints' Day (Toussaint) are the two most important religious dates, when Auvergnats from throughout the region return to their family homes in rural parishes. Auvergnat funerals are also times for large gatherings of kin and neighbors from far afield. For children, the celebration of First Communion at age 11 constitutes a traditional family feast as well as a religious occasion. Vestiges of ancient Celtic sites and beliefs are found throughout northern Auvergne.

Arts. The traditional Auvergnat dance of la bourrée is now performed by folklore groups throughout the region and less formally at local gatherings. Verbal arts of storytelling and punning are also part of Auvergnat expressive culture.

Medicine. France has a national health-care system, and there are both public and private hospitals. Country doctors and nurses who regularly make house calls are still common in rural Auvergne. Various folk healers ( guérisseurs ), each specializing in particular types of illness, are also consulted (although their activities are officially illegal).

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