So, yesterday I went to an Occitan Carnival festival…. thing. It was… well, it wasn’t what I expected, but that’s partially because I didn’t have all the info about said Occitan festival, and it’s possible that I jumped the gun a little.
Let me start off with something of an explanation: A large part of the reason I chose this particular program in France was because of a fascination with the regional language, Occitan. It’s a strange mix of Spanish, Latin, and Italian, coated with a lots of French. Said fascination lead to me choosing it as the topic of my Senior Thesis for the Honors College. This means Occitan cultural activities are high on my to do list.
Thus, when my host mother informed me that there was an article in the Montpellier paper advertising that there would be an Occitan Carnival in the Peyroux garden on Saturday, I cheerfully went. What neither of us got, however, was that it was put on by one of the local Occitan immersion schools. (Yes, they have those here. They’re on my list of people to hit up for interviews for my thesis.) With this information, you may have anticipated the punchline: The vast majority of the proceedings were essentially designed for the parents of the students in question to coo over. I saw most of a rather adorable skit (mostly in Occitan, they translated for the non-Occitan speaking parents) involving the city of Montpellier forgetting its animal totem for Carnival, and found the parade of students dressed up for Carnival. Actually, I kind of stalked the parade, mostly because the costumes were interesting, and the music was fairly traditional Occitan style music. It was rather cute, but not dreadfully outsider friendly. Granted, I was late, so perhaps I missed the outsider friendly portion. Definitely a possibility.
Still, they were so CUTE! And it reassures me to know that there will be another generation of people who speak Occitan, even if it’s not their maternal language.