The silence of the bells, and other tidbits

Things are quieter now in Daglan. (What? I can hear you exclaiming. How could the village possibly be any quieter?) Aha, I reply: it’s all about the silence of the bells — and particularly what my wife Jan and I call “the crazy bells” of the village church. Apparently, that tradition is no more.

Just to orient you, here’s a view of the church bell tower, taken from near the front of our home, in a photo that just happens to show a hot air balloon floating nearby:

Our church tower, set against a clear blue sky.

The village church’s bell tower, set against a clear blue sky.

I shall explain: In the church tower, quite near our home in downtown Daglan, the bells ring out the time. At each hour, they ring the number of the hour (so, at 9 in the morning, they ring nine times). Exactly two minutes later, they do the same thing again. At each half hour, they ring once — whether it’s 9:30 a.m., or 11:30 a.m., or 4:30 p.m. Are you with me so far?

But there are three special times — 7 a.m., noon, and 7 p.m. After the usual bell-ringing of those hours, we’re treated to the ringing of the Angelus. This means three rings of the bell, followed by a healthy pause (maybe three seconds or so), then another three rings, then another. Total rings: nine.

My understanding is that all this ringing comes from the old tradition of calling believers to prayer.

But for years and years in Daglan, the nine rings of the Angelus bell was followed by the “crazy bells,” a cacophony of bell-ringing that seemed to go on and on. When daughter Anne was visiting us, one morning she counted something like 154 separate rings. That’s a lot.

Over the years of living here, Jan and I have become quite used to the bells, and often don’t even hear them, since we sort of tune them out. When we’re away from Daglan, whether staying with friends or in a hotel, we sometimes comment that we actually miss hearing bells in the morning.

But we’re not quite ready to forget the crazy bells. And no, we don’t know who ordered them to end, or why.

Full tilt at the 8 à Huit: If you’re a regular visitor to Daglan, perhaps with a holiday home here, you’ll be pleased to know that our convenience store is now open on Mondays. It’s a sure sign that we’re really into The Season. On Sunday, however, the store is open in the morning only.

The wash-out: And speaking of The Season, it’s sad to report that the weather still isn’t quite cooperating. On Saturday, Daglan played host to a large brocante, a sort of second-hand market that (for reasons unfathomable to me) attract lots of people. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the temperature climbed up to 30 degrees (about 86 American). But the next day, Sunday, was gray, rainy, and generally miserable. I took a peek into the Salle des fêtes parking lot, and saw a few brave souls tending their brocante stalls. But essentially, it was a wash-out. This is easily the wettest spring since we moved to Daglan.


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6 Responses to The silence of the bells, and other tidbits

  1. Keith Raymond says:

    So only the crazy bells stopped? How about stopping the bells all night!!

    • loren24250 says:

      Correct, only the crazy bells at 7 a.m., noon and 7 p.m. As for evening bells, we love them! It’s a real plus, by the way, that the church bells use the 12-hour system, instead of the more common French system of the 24-hour clock. Otherwise we’d have 23 bells (twice) at 11 p.m.

  2. Lesley says:

    Now that we have gone ‘electric’ along with the clock timed with a radio beacon we have accurate bells along the same lines as Daglan. We don’t have that many crazy bells though, perhaps 15. There used to be a tradition of ringing the bells when there was a death in the village, a single dong repeated for a few times, for a man, two dongs for a woman repeated and three for a child. This appears to have stopped now. You can’t get the staff!

    • loren24250 says:

      Thanks, Lesley — very helpful and interesting information. As far as I know, we still have the tradition in Daglan of ringing the church bells when there is a death in the village, unless that was stopped recently.

  3. Lesley says:

    There is a GIANT grasshopper in the town at the moment!

    • loren24250 says:

      Hi Lesley — Yep, right near Le Thé Vert. It’s one of several bugs around the village, all made of wood, and all aimed at brightening Daglan a bit. I’ll try to post some photos, once I get my camera problem sorted out. (It doesn’t work, and besides we left it in Toronto.)

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