Celebrating the Arrival of Summer

Celebrating the summer solstice is a big deal in France, as well as much of Europe. It was once a pagan holiday when it was believed that plants picked during this time were magical and when bonfires were lit as evil spirits would roam on this night when the sun appeared to reverse its course and turn southwards again and the days start to become shorter again. It was decided several centuries ago that people shouldn’t be dancing around fires and believing pagan beliefs so the Church made this day, usually June 24th, St Jean Day celebrating the birth of John the Baptist. Bonfires are still lit and some villages perched on hills each light bonfires that can be seen from other villages. I haven’t seen that yet. I did go to Aix last year to see a very well put together celebration with dances by professionals. It was really good but this year we went to a small village called Villelaure to watch their fireworks and their bonfire. It was small and I think I liked the simplicity of it all more.


Fireworks are hard to take photos of for me but here is some of what we saw. I enjoy the reactions of children as they watch the explosions of color in the sky.


A little something on ground level


Many young people take turns jumping over the bonfire, after it has died down. I’ve heard it brings good luck, love or fertility.


This guy looks like his bottom got burned.

7 thoughts to “Celebrating the Arrival of Summer”

  1. I love fireworks! And I find it endlessly facinating how pagan traditions were integrated into Christianised versions and how they have evolved over time!

  2. We celebrated the first day of summer back in the USA. The longest day got even longer because we “found” 6 hours by flying across the time zones. I suppose that was sort of like jumping the flames, but without a hot seat…thank goodness.

    Meilleurs voeux!!

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