Festival of St Jean

Another great festival celebrated not only all over France but all of Europe as well is the celebration of St Jean Day. Originally it was a pagan festival to celebrate the summer soltice but has now become a religious festival which celebrates St Jean, or John the Baptist, whose birthday falls on the same day. Fires are lit all over Europe and, as they burn down, dances are done around the bonfire and some brave people jump over the fire to bring good luck, fertility or marriage into their lives.
I attended the St Jean festival in Aix. It was very well done and enjoyable to watch. A flame was actually carried in Olympic Games fashion from Catelonia, Spain.

The jogger enters the square carrying the flame. It is then used to light candles inside lanterns of people representing other cities around the area. A representative from Spain was also there and gave a short speech.

A small procession of some of the participants in the festival. With the celebration of the summer soltice, there is a focus on wheat and the hope for a good harvest at the end of the summer.

Could this be Cezanne? They are celebrating the anniversary of his 100th birthday in Aix this summer.

A performance celebrating wheat and its harvesting was then done on the Rotunde, the location of a huge, gorgeous fountain in the center of a round about. It was so nice to be able to stand there without traffic roaring around. These children are spreading the seeds of wheat.

A dance done by what looked like professional dancers-they had bells around their ankles.

An intricate dance done with arches of wheat and flowers.

One end of the wreaths were put into one pot and then they circled around in dance.

I didn’t get any more good photos as dark decended. A bonfire was lit and more dancing occured. It was all, in a word, charming.