Traditions across Europe-an eTwinning project

“Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, TRADITION and myth frame our response.” (Arthur Schlesinger Jr.)

Breton “Onion Johnnies” in Britain. August 25, 2009

Filed under: Festivals and fairs,Old traditions,Typical places — mariedebretagne2 @ 11:03 am
Tags: , , ,

The Onion Johnnies are farmers who cross the Channel to sell their onions in Britain. They started doing so at the end of the XIXth century. They would transport their onions on bikes and go from house to house to sell their braids of onions. Winston Churchill was one of their customers ! He liked their onions very much.



They still carry on this trade but they are not as numerous. They board the ferry in Roscoff to Plymouth, their vans loaded with oinions , proud to maintain that tradition.

A young Johnny oinion man braiding his oinions.

A young Johnny oinion man braiding his oinions.

By the way: Johnny means “little John” and in Breton language “ar Johnniged”

Their onions have just been granted a quality label ‘( A.O.C: Appellation d’origine contrôlée) and last weekend there was an Onion Fair in Roscoff ( Brittany, France) which was attended by hundreds of people.

A vivid tradition indeed!

Oinion Jonhnny in Edinburgh ( Scotland)

Onion Jonhnny in Edinburgh ( Scotland) in the 1960's

Oinion Johnny preparing its braids nowadays.

Onion Johnny preparing his braids nowadays.


6 Responses to “Breton “Onion Johnnies” in Britain.”

  1. Jacques Says:

    Short intersting post, Marie. The Oinion Fair in Roscoff was started 7 years ago and it contributed to make the oinions of Roscoff known locally. They are used in many delicious local recipes.

  2. Gina Says:

    Lovely post and pittoresque tradition! We also use onions in our recipes even when we prepare the sauce to season pasta with preserved tomatoes, farmers also prepare them in braids, but we haven’t “oinions Johnnies”.

    • kerhallet Says:

      I am using Roscoff oinions evrey in fresh vegetagle salad with tomatoes, beans, corn, beetroots, cold potatoes… with fresh minced parsley! Yum- yum with vinegar sauce! Roscoff oinions are very sweet, not at all bitter. To have more info, please have a look at our blog

      • Nicole Annick Meadowcroft nee Nast Says:

        I am the grandaughter of an Onion Johnny, there must be more of us out there. It would be lovely to get intouch with others who must have the same memories as me.

  3. Marie-France Says:

    Off we go to the fair 🙂 🙂 🙂 Lovely weather to top it all 🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. Hi, I really enjoyed visiting your site and reading the interesting articles and comments that are posted here. Nice job, keep up the good work. 🙂

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