Provencal - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. The dominant religion in rural Provence is Catholicism; however, because of the significant numbers of Muslim Arabic residents, Islam represents an important religious force. The majority of people in Provence observe the holy days and participate in the cycle of festivities of the Catholic church. Thus, Epiphany, All Souls' Day, Assumption, Candlemas, and Lent are celebrated. One of the most prominent festivals is Carnaval, which is held during Holy Week at Easter. Carnaval has enjoyed a revival in rural villages in Provence and Languedoc. While the specific rites and ceremonies may vary from one region to another and from one village to another, the reemergence of Carnaval is linked to a revival of Occitan customs, language, and culture. This revival has also occurred in the arts.

Arts. The music and poetry of the troubadours is being revived in Provence as part of a movement to preserve regional identity against the dominant French identity. Written in the Occitan language, troubadour art forms flourished in Medieval Provence. Occitan literature and the Occitan language itself also have become part of school curriculums at the local level.

Medicine. Villages are served by licensed medical practitioners (i.e., doctors and nurses), who make their rounds visiting patients in their homes as well as tending to them in their offices. One doctor or nurse may serve several villages in close proximity to one another. Most large villages contain a pharmacy that stocks standard pharmaceutical products as well as homeopathic medicines. Homeopathic remedies as well as naturopathy are used in conjunction with "scientific" medicine. Medical knowledge itself is not the strict domain of medical practitioners, as many villagers, especially the elderly, are familiar with the medicinal properties of a wide variety of herbal plants that grow wild in the countryside. These plants are collected, dried, and brewed into teas that are used as medical remedies for many ailments.

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