Face masks are being hung on an ancient healing tree in northern France as people pray for an end to the pandemic.
The tree has drawn visitors for thousands of years. People tie clothing to its branches in hopes of finding healing.
What visitors hang depends on what's hurting, a splint for an injured leg or a boot for a broken foot, but in 2020, face masks are starting to show up.
Bertrand Bosio, who studies the region's mystical sites, thinks people are hanging the masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
“COVID-19 shows up in an ancient ritual, leaving a trace of the 21st century,” he said.
The tradition of hanging clothing on healing trees is still practiced in several countries around the world. They're called rag trees in Scotland and Ireland. Cyprus calls them wishing trees.
Bosio said locals turn to France's healing tree when medicine has let them down.
Until a COVID vaccine arrives, he hopes this ritual will give them the protection they need.
The French government plans to roll out a vaccine in January, but a recent Ipsos survey found only 54% of French adults would be willing to get the shot.