June 27, 2001
- Feu de Saint Jean
Fire of Saint John
Every year on the 23rd of June our village
celebrates the feu de Saint Jean. Although a religious meaning
has been attached to this festival, it is in essence purely pagan.
It is a celebration of the summer solstice and a ritual act of
purification for the beginning of a new season. The ritual is
to jump over the coals after the flames have subsided. Tort reform
has revived this tradition but it is still mostly honored symbolically.
The church found it a convenient festival
to adapt to its own use and decided to celebrate the birth of
Saint John the Baptist on this day. It is from this date that
the days become shorter up until the 25th of December. With the
birth of Christ, the days become longer and, symbolically, the
way of light begins.
Some villages build small symbolic fires
but our village stacks logs about twenty feet high. The fire
burns for several days but the real fun is the lighting ceremony
and the trance-like state that follows as everyone quietly sits
around watching it burn.