Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

A Breton Christmas story

As I can't travel today because of the heavy snowfall, I can't go to my band rehearsal and have to stay at home with my parents I am visiting this weekend. It is a pity there is no band rehearsal, but the sight of these white trees, fields and roads is worth something, too. And it gives me time to cuddle with my cat, play piano and flute, and listen to music; I was just listening online to "Noël en Bretagne", a Christmas cd by Yann-Fañch Kemener. On the last track of the cd he tells a traditional Breton version of the classic Christmas story, which I'd like to retell for you all here on my blog...:

When a decree went out from the emperor Augustus that all had to return to their hometown to be registrered in the books of the state, Joseph and Mary, his pregnant wife, had to go to Bethlehem. But Bethlehem was full of people who had come there with the same intentions as our couple, and they couldn't find a place to sleep. When something is scarce it becomes immediately expensive, so the hotel-managers of Roman Age Betlehem had the time of their life and asked ridiculous prices for their lodgings: prices a simple carpenter as Joseph could not pay. They went from one inn to the other, and everywhere they were told that sleeping places were not for normal people now: only the rich and powerful could afford such a luxury.
Until they came at a particular rich-looking place: Joseph had lost all of his hopes already, but on insistance of his wife he tried this last place they hadn't tried yet: "I can't give birth to a babe on the streets, you know that as good as I do!"
And the owner of this last hotel was a good man, and gave them a place to sleep; not in his hotel, as it was full, but in the shed with the animals. He sent his young daughter Berc'hed (Brigitte) to lead them the way; and both Mary and Joseph pitied the child, as she was blind and could not use her arms.
They did not give it another thought but went to sleep immediately, as they were death-tired from the day's travel.

But in the middle of the night Mary woke up and told Joseph to find her someone to help her, as she was about to give birth to her child. And Joseph went into the house, to search a woman to help his wife, but was told that all female servants and family-members were busy atending to the more important guests, and no-one could be missed to help this woman to deliver: she would have to do it on her own...."I can help", sounded a small voice from a corner of the kitchen. "No Berc'hed, you can't, you're blind and disabled!" And in the same instant, Berc'hed could see and move her arms! WOW!! Against such a miracle the hotel-manager could hardly say a thing, so Berc'hed went with Joseph to help Mary give birth to her son. The babe came healthy into the world, and Berc'hed stayed all night to care for it while the tired mother slept. For this service she was rewarded with the ability to cure little children, and give help to women in labour.

Berc'hed has become a mighty saint in Britanny as in Ireland, and many chapels and songs are dedicated to her. And, like that other important female Breton saint, Anna, she is a part of the 'holy family': as Anna is the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus, so is Berc'hed the little Jesus's nurse.

Nedeleg laouen!!!
(merry Christmas)