We now flash back a month or so, when key staff members of Radio Free Daglan (okay, my wife and I) were madly getting ready for a vacation to the west coast of Florida, which resulted in a long gap in postings on this blog.
In any case, on that mid-February afternoon, Jan was in the front of our house, and called back to me: “What do you think those drums are for?” “What drums?” I quickly replied, just an instant before I heard them too — an incredible pounding noise that kept getting louder. So we dashed out the front door and discovered this:
Now I know what you’re thinking: The residents of Daglan were staging Les Miserables just for our entertainment. But no, that wasn’t it at all. Let’s have another look, as the group gets closer:
It turns out that it was the entire student body of Daglan’s public school, all dressed up in costumes, and accompanied by a group of fairly talented — and definitely loud — drummers. Here’s a look at some of the costumes, as the kids pass in front of our house:
You might be thinking that the theme of the event was “Celebrating the culture of Native Americans,” since several of the kids were wearing headbands with feathers tucked into them. But have another look:
At this point, we gave up trying to figure out the theme of the costumes, and simply focused on the event. And then it hit us: Of course, this was the annual trial of le méchant Pétassou, a fairly strange French ritual that occurs around the time of Lent, and features the trial, conviction and punishment of an evil character.
We first discovered this event two years ago, and I wrote about it in “The judgement of the children” as a two-part posting, on April 10 and 11, 2011. (If you’d like a refresher, just check out the archives of this blog for April 2011.) The bottom line, however, is that the trial and punishment of our own Pétassou figure takes place on the grounds behind Daglan’s salle des fêtes. Here’s the whole group, gathered around to hear about Pétassou’s various crimes:
As you may remember from my blog postings of two years ago on this subject, the punishment tends to be fairly severe, in keeping with some of France’s most treasured medieval traditions — namely, burning at the stake. And so the evil, thieving Pétassou was set alight, and then promptly was blown over by a gust of wind. Here he is, just catching fire:
Finally, we see Pétassou being completely consumed by the blaze:
Despite the setback of the figure being blown over just as the flames were getting going, it was a fairly good show. And in the end, of course, Pétassou got what he deserved. And who could ask for anything more?