The Bear Festival is based on the legend of John the Bear and ancient traditional fertility initiation rituals marking the springtime revival. The bear kidnapping young shepherdesses is hunted by hunters, then captured and shown to the villagers in the village squares. During the closing ceremony, the beast is shaved and thus regains its human aspect.
Jean de l'Ours is a hybrid being, half-human, half-animal, born of a woman and a bear, and endowed with superhuman strength that allows him to overcome various trials.
The inhabitants of Prats-de-Mollo, Arles-sur-Tech and Saint-Laurent-de-Cerdans celebrate every year towards the end of February the "Drada de l'Os" (Bear Day), which also marks the end of winter.
In the early hours of the afternoon, several very agile and resistant young people are charged with playing bears.
Others are the hunters.
The first ones are pursued by the hunters and reach the village.
For a few hours, they will be the masters of the place, terrorizing the onlookers.
At the end of the festival, the "polar bears", dressed in shirts and floured, intervene, in charge of capturing the bears and bringing them to the foirail.
Definitively mastered, they will finally be shaved.
The day ends with a "bal de corre", a frenzied round, on the Sunday before or after Candlemas.
With Sud Canigo
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
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