Wedding Custom and Song in Occitan from France

Guest blogger, Monique Palomares works with me on Mama Lisa’s World en français. Monique grew up speaking the Occitan language in southern France. Occitan was the language spoken by the troubadours – largely in southern France – but also in parts of Spain and Italy.

Photo of French Wedding Chamberpot

Recently, Peter emailed us asking about the lyrics of a Gascon Occitan song called “Lo torrin”. (Gascon is an Occitan Dialect.) Peter’s wife is learning how to play the “boha” (the Gascon bagpipe) and he wanted to sing along. He got the lyrics and forwarded them to us.

The song “Lo torrin” is a “wedding song” that the wedding party-goers would sing to the newlyweds. “Lo torrin” specifically refers to a garlic soup spiced with pepper. This soup was traditionally brought to newlyweds on the morning after their wedding night.

In this old tradition, the bride and the groom would ride around the village in a cart with their brand-new chamberpot, on their wedding day. It symbolized the start of their new life together and it also let people know about their wedding. Remember that at that time there were no bathrooms, only outhouses. Yet people wouldn’t go out at night to “go” in the outhouse (“la cabane au fond du jardin”*). During the evening meal and party the newlyweds would sneak out around midnight and they would go to sleep at some accomplice’s place (an aunt’s, a grandma’s…). Later in the night or early in the morning, the young people at the wedding (those in their late teens and their twenties) would search for them. When they found them, they’d get them out of bed so that they could eat the soup that had been cooked especially for them.

In some areas, they wouldn’t cook a soup, they would pour into a brand new chamberpot the leftovers of the drinks with chocolate and biscuits (nobody needs further description to guess what it was supposed to look like). This was supposed to help them recover from the wedding night.

When I was a child and in my neighborhood the bride and groom wouldn’t tour around the town with their brand-new chamberpot, but they’d still be gotten out of bed. Nowadays the tradition survives in some places. Since nobody now uses chamberpots, “pots de la mariée” (brides’ chamberpots) are still on sale for this event.

*”La cabane au fond du jardin” refers to the little wooden cabin used as toilets at the other end of the garden and it’s also the title of a spoof song imitating the style of the French singer Francis Cabrel.

Below, you can hear Jane Thomasson playing the “boha” and Peter Horton singing the first verse of the song. After that you’ll find the lyrics in Occitan, and then an English translation…

Click to Hear the first verse of Lo Torrin

Lo torrin
(Gascon Occitan)

Obritz la pòrta, obritz (x2)
La novèla maridada luron lonla (x2)

Vos portèm lo torrin (x2)
E la sopa ben pebrada luron lon la (x2)

Coma obrirei jo (x2)
Que soi dens mon lheit cochada luron lon la (x2)

Au pròche de mon marit (x2)
Que me ten tota embraçada luron lon la (x2)

Que me ten e me tendrà (x2)
Tota la nèit empenada luron lon la (x2)

Se perdèvi mas amors (x2)
Ont las anguerei o quèrre luron lon la (x2)

Seren per debat París (x2)
A dus cent cinquanta legas luron lon la (x2)

Dabans la pòrta i a (x2)
Un grand pè de heuguèra luron lon la (x2)

Dens ‘quera heuguèra (x2)
Un beròi nid de tortèla luron lon la (x2)

La tortèla i a cohat (x2)
E apèi s’es envolada luron lon la (x2)

En partint a feit rocó (x2)
E la bèra n’es plus bèra luron lon la (x2)

Obritz la pòrta, obritz (x2)
La novèla maridada luron lon la (x2)

Se no l’obrissètz pas (x2)
En ‘questa ora vos l’enfoncèm luron lon la (x2)

The “Torrin”
(English Translation)

Open the door, open it, (2 x’s)
You, bride (newlywed) luron lon la…

We bring you the tourrin*
And the soup spiced with pepper.

How would I open it
If I’m lying in my bed?

Close to my husband,
Who holds me in his arms**.

Who holds me and will hold me
Saddened, all night long.

If I lost my love
Where would I go for him?

He’d be, northwards, near Paris,
250 leagues from here.

In front of the door is
A big fern.

In this fern is
A pretty turtle dove nest.

The turtle dove hatched there
Then she flew away.

When she left, she went “coo”,
And the pretty one isn’t pretty any more.

Open the door, open, (twice)
You, bride.

If you don’t open it
Now we’ll break it open.

Click here for the Lo torrin Song Page – where you can access the Sheet Music, midi tune and French and Spanish translations.

Note: There are some other songs about getting married in Occitan and French, most of which are addressed to girls. They’re along the lines of Joan Baez’s song The Wagoner’s Lad: “Oh hard is the fortune of all womankind, she’s always controlled, she’s always confined, controlled by her parents until she is wife, a slave to her husband the rest of her life!”

Many thanks to Peter Horton for contributing the lyrics to “Lo torrin”and the sheet music (which came from the “Bohaires de Gasconha”), and for singing the first verse for us, accompanied by Jane Thomasson playing the “boha” (local bagpipe).

-Monique Palomares

UPDATE: Here’s a Recipe for Lo Torrin Soup!

This article was posted on Thursday, January 8th, 2009 at 4:03 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, Folk Songs, France, French, Languages, MP3's, Music, Occitan, Occitan, Occitan Songs from the Troubadours, Recordings of Songs, Sheet Music, Weddings. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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