The Bear feast

The Bear feast

On the slope of the Canigou, in Prats-de-Mollo, Pyrénées-Orientales, a singular medieval legend tells the story of a shepherdess kidnaped by a bear. 

The bear tried in vain to seduce the shepherdess he kidnapped. The cries of the young lady caught the attention of the lumberjacks working near that came and freed her. 

Based on that legend, peoples of Prats celebrate each year at the end of February the "Diada de l'Os" (the day of the bear), marking also the end of winter in the Canigou. 

The  bear hunting starts in a surprising ballet of three men made bears, covered by blackspotted sheepskins at with their faces hiden by a layer of soot. Once a sherpherdess kidnapped, they run down the sloping streets of the medieval city, hounded by the villagers. The masquerade spread a splendid disarray. The "barbers", the face flouried and wearing a white shirt, appear then as to restore order.  

Shaving off the beast with their axe, they reveal, under the skin, the man. But before that, be careful, passenger! Everyone is going to become black, attaqued by the bears... The carnavalesque mood is at its climax... 

♦ In the Vallespir, Arles sur Tech and Saint Laurent de Cerdans celebrate as well the bear in february.