Culture

Brittany is the western French peninsula. It is a Celtic region of France, having its own languages (Breton and Gallo), of which Breton only is a Celtic language.

The flag of Brittany is called the “Gwenn-ha-Du” (“White and Black”).

ID of Brittany

Capital: Rennes (Roazhon), previously Nantes (Naoned)

People: Bretons
Population: 4,365,500 (of which 206,000 are Breton speakers and 28,300 are Gallo speakers)

Counties (called “départements” in French): Côtes d’Armor, Finistère, Ille-et-Vilaine, Loire-Atlantique1, Morbihan
Langages: French, Breton, Gallo

Other names: Breizh (in Breton), Bretagne (in French), Armorique (in French), Armorica (in English)

Important urban centres: Rennes (Roazhon), Nantes (Naoned), Brest (Brest), Lorient (An Oriant), Quimper (Kemper), Vannes (Gwened) , Saint-Brieuc (Sant Brieg), Saint-Nazaire (Sant Nazer)

1 Loire-Atlantique is not actually in the administrative region of Brittany, having been separated from Brittany in 1941 by the French government. However, Loire-Atlantique is considered to belong to Brittany (at least culturally speaking) by a majority of Bretons.

Dances

Traditional dancing sessions, equivalent to céilithe, are called “festoù-noz” (i.e. “night fests”). Many types of dances exists, both collectives and in couples. Some of those are: an dro, hanter-dro, dañs plinn, gavotte, etc.

A good website on Breton dancing can be found at http://dansesbretonnes.gwalarn.org/ (in French).

Musique

Traditional instruments found in festnoù-noz (i.e. céilithe) Brittany are the pipe (“biniou”), bombard (“bombard”) and sometimes accordion (“accordéon”). The harp is also a traditional instrument of Brittany but disappeared in the 18th century.

Many traditional song types exist, such as: kan ha diskan, gwerz, sailor songs (“chants de marins”), … A gwerz singer (Denez Prigent) sang one of its songs “Gortoz a ran” (“I Await”) for Ridley Scott’s movie “Black Hawk Down”.

However, since the 1970s, Breton music has also modern pop groups or singers, such as: Alan Stivell, Dan ar Braz, Tri Yann, Nolwenn Korbell, Les Ramoneurs de Menhirs, Dom Duff, Kohann, Red Cardell, Plantec, Gilles Servat, …  and many others!

Many music festivals (of any music types) are held mostly during summer, such as: Festival Interceltique de Lorient, Festival des Vieilles Charrues, Festival du Bout du Monde, Transmusicales de Rennes, Kan al Loar, la Fête des Brodeuses, les Filets Bleus, le Printemps de Châteauneuf, etc.

More information about traditional music festivals can be found at http://gouelioubreizh.free.fr/mappe.htm, and for any other types of festivals: http://www.routedesfestivals.com/liste-des-festivals-en-bretagne-15.html

Literature

Because of its Celtic past, Brittany has kept a strong use of oral transmission of its literature heritage until recently. Some French writers of French expression are Breton like François-René de Châteaubriant and Ernest Renan.

Breton literature is very wealth and so diverse that we don’t know where to begin, so here is a list of words or books that you can pick-up yourself according to your own interest!

Anatole le Braz: « Légende de la Mort chez les Bretons Armoricains », …

Hersart de la Villemarqué: « Barzaz Breiz »

Pêr-Jakez Helias: « Le cheval d’orgueil »

A list of Breton writers (both traditional and modern): http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_d%27auteurs_bretons

Traditional clothes

Traditional clothes were worn until the 1970’s in some parts of Brittany. They are now worn during traditional festivals and competition. There are many types of those, each region having its own “costume” and its village its variations. Type “costumes bretons” on your Internet browser to see some!

Couple in traditional clothes of the “Glazik” region (source http://www.gwenhadu.fr)

Gastronomy

Breton people like eating and drinking well… A Breton brand even has this slogan: “Bien manger c’est le début du bonheur” (“Eating well is the beginning of happiness”) !

Here is a list of some delicious things to be eaten in Brittany or to ask to your Breton friends…

Far, Gâteau Breton, Kouign-amann (literally “Butter cake”, not be eaten if you’re on a diet), Crêpes and galettes, Kig-ha-farz, Kig-sal, Petits LU au beurre (Little butter cakes, traditionnaly from from Nantes), Caramel au beurre salé (caramel made with salted butter), Sel de Guérande (salt traditionally collected in Guérande town), Oysters from Cancale,  …

And of course the drinks…

Cider, Chouchenn (a sort of mead made from wild honey), Lambig (apple eau-de-vie), Beers (some traditional breweries: Coreff de Morlaix, Tri Martolod, Lancelot, Britt, …), White wines ine of the Loire region (“Vins de Loire”), Whiskey (Kornog, Ed Du, ArmoriK, Ed Du…: whiskey is produced since a couple of years in our country).

And don’t forget to say “Memestra!” (“Same thing!”) when asking for another pint…

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