Tales from

the Loir

A Weekly Column

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.

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June 20, 2001 - Geoffroy Martel
June 13, 2001 - Saint of the Day
June 6, 2001 - Escapade dans le Berry
May 30, 2001 - Learning French
May 23, 2001 - Pete and Manny
May 16, 2001 - Les Journees des Aubepines
May 8, 2001 - Armistice Day
May 2, 2001 - May Day
April 25, 2001 - Les Manouches
April 18, 2001 - Trôo
April 11, 2001 - Le P'tit Jules
April 4, 2001 - Men and Their Caves 
Archive of Weekly Columns Jan-Apr 2001
Archive of Weekly Columns from 2000


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