A very local custom: "the empègues"

The empègue is a small drawing stenciled around the doors of houses in certain villages in the Gard and Hérault regions of France.

The empègue tradition seems to be specific to this geographical area, in villages where Camargue bullfighting traditions are very strong.
In our area, empègues are most evident in Villetelle and Saussines.

The etymology of the word is Occitan, "empeguar" meaning "to glue". The root of the word is "pègue", meaning all kinds of glue.

These drawings were created by the young people of the village, the Abats, as part of the fêtes votives of the Petite Camargue, Costières and Vaunage regions. At the beginning of the 20th century, the aim was to celebrate the departure for national service of young men who had just turned 18. These were the conscripts of the age "class". Nowadays, it's often teams of youngsters (boys and girls) organized in gangs wearing the same T-shirt who, to finance their festivities, go from house to house selling "le fougasset".

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The resident who has given his or her contribution will then see the famous empégue (stencil) affixed to his or her door.

These stencils are linked to the Camargue race. The drawing is accompanied by the letters VLJ and the year of the age group. VLJ stands for Vive La Jeunesse or "Viù Lo Joven" in Occitan.

The motifs chosen take up emblematic themes (Camargue cross, trident, raseteur's hook, etc.), Camargue animals (horse, bull, pink flamingo) or any other representation linked to bouvine.