Did you know that there is a right (and a wrong) time to cut your hair?  And that your jam keeps better if it’s made at a certain time of the month?  It has apparently all to do with the moon.  If you want your hair to grow thick and fast you should have it cut on a waxing moon. Then again to avoid a strong regrowth (after waxing of a different kind) you’d best be doing that when it wanes.  Incidentally, if you’re planning to clean your house anytime soon, wait till the waning moon –  your house will stay clean longer…

You may not know this about the French but many (well here in the Languedoc anyway) strictly abide by the rules laid down in the enduring  Calendrier Lunaire (which still sells some 210.000 copies annually at an accessible €7.50 as opposed to a pricier €36.29 for the Farmers’ Almanac in Ireland.)  No need to spend the money though – it’s downloadable for free.  And the simplified English version of the lunar calendar on the website of  Domaine de la Vougeraie in Nuits-Saint-Georges is worth a look.

But here in the Languedoc, older generations that have grown vines for as long as they, their grandparents and their great-great-great grandparents can remember, have no need for the book.  They know it all by heart.  Nobody would dream of pruning or planting at the wrong end of the moon, and they shake their head in resignation and acceptance when they see an entire peach orchard being planted at a time it shouldn’t. Then shrug their wise shoulders when these trees remain sickly…

Another thing you may not know about the French is that they consider themselves not quite as far removed from the animal kingdom as we do perhaps ourselves.  They think that this not only explains but also excuses most of their thinking and behaviour patterns.  And again the moon is sometimes involved…

Every French-man and woman knows that in order to explain the nightly tossing and turning and general unease we experience during a waxing moon, we only need to look at nature.  Animal behaviour changes radically during this time – marine organisms move up and down in the sea depending on the level of moonlight and crabs migrate when the moon tells them so.  On land, nocturnal animals come out on a well-lit night to hunt (think whooping owls and howling werewolves!) or rabbits that frantically dart around during full moon nights. Others stay hidden to avoid predators, while the male species are known to become more aggressive.  Even African dung beetles, oddly, have been proven to walk in a straighter line when the moon is full.

Thus the French believe that other behaviour patterns can easily be explained by these two facts. Cheating on your mate is common in societies all over the world, but only the French blame it on the moon and our analogy to animals.  “Have you ever seen a male impala refuse the advances of one of his neighbours’ wives?” they ask as if this is an obvious thing and a simple fait accompli.

But that, dear readers, is another story for another day…

     Image by photographer: Laurent LAVEDER