The population of the Aosta Valley has developed, over the centuries, a vast patrimony of proverbs, songs, legends that were transmitted from generation to generation during the numerous opportunities for meeting and exchanging that community life offered, and particularly during the vigils (“veillà”) which took place in the winter in rural houses.
Proverbs are mostly expressed in Franco-Provençal or Walser dialect and refer to the weather in relation to agricultural work, dictate behavioral rules or take realism of reality that does not always correspond to the principles of justice.
The songs in French are mainly of a narrative nature and are linked to the tradition of folklore common to French-speaking countries; among those that have come into use in the last century, there are numerous songs that refer to the love for the mountains and nostalgia for the birthplace, very popular themes in a mountain community, such as that of the Aosta Valley, which was deeply marked by the drama of emigration. The songs in Franco-Provençal are mainly of a humorous character, even if there is no lack of recent compositions close, as inspiration, to the French repertoire. The German-speaking communities of the Lys valley hand down songs in the Walser dialect and in the German language.
The legends are populated by animals, witches and fantastic beings and often present the theme of the triumph of good over evil, mostly represented by the devil himself, who intervenes in numerous stories.
The environment in which the most extraordinary events and the most fantastic apparitions take place is usually the high mountains, to which popular tradition attributes sacred connotations.