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King of the Table

The Art of Butter

Since all butter for the table had to be decorated, my siblings and I each had to learn the art of decorating butter mounds. We decorated using both ends of different sized spoons. We also used butter stamps and intricately carved butter molds, which made the task a little easier.


Each week we also decorated butter for an offering to the church. The church, in turn, sold the butter to the well-to-do people in town.

In the town of Spezet, not far from where I grew up, a festival of butter or “pardon extraordinaire,” is held every year on the first Sunday after Pentecost. The eldest lady in the area presides over an event in which the married women of the town sculpt a mound of butter weighing two hundred pounds or more. This decorated mound is then carried in a procession around the town to the blessed fountain, and from there returned to the chapel, where it is offered to the church and put on display.

At large Breton weddings, invited farm families would bring and display the carved butter mounds which they had made. Unfortunately, the art of decorating butter at home is disappearing with the current generation. However, you can still find many butter stamps and molds that were carved by local people to decorate butter mounds.

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