Fire jumping on the summer solstice feast of St John. How Languedoc celebrates.

solstice

the sun and moon in a solstice embrace

On the eve of the feast of St John the Baptist, many villages here in Languedoc, celebrate with some kind of fire jumping party. The date, rather conveniently some might suggest, coincides with Pagan midsummer rituals when bonfires were lit to ward off evil spirits. Summer solstice was a magical time of year for the ancient peoples.

Today, children enjoy the festivities put on especially for them. Last night our village laid on a disco party with snow machine. The kids were thoroughly soaked before the bonfires were lit – a good idea for those planning to jump the fire later.

St John's eve snow and fire jumping party

disco with snow machine

Snow machines turn up at most of our outdoor summer parties. On the evenings of Soiree Mousse, you wear your old clothes!

snow before the fire jumping

getting clothes wet before jumping the fires

Volunteer firefighters are in charge of the bonfires. Our village has its own firefighting equipment, all manned by residents – a schoolteacher, business people etc. Cadets are welcome and many village children learn the ropes when they are quite young before becoming volunteer firefighters themselves.

The firemen prepare the bonfires using grubbed up vines. The smaller pile is for the youngest children.

vines for firejumping

old vines make good bonfires

If any of the children don’t look wet enough to go fire jumping, they must douse themselves with water from the firefighters’ bucket!

firejumping preparation

getting thoroughly wet

The fires are lit. The kids are getting excited. There’s a lot of shouting encouragement. Health and Safety? Risk assessments?

 

Why would you want to spoil the fun with rules and regulations? Nobody ever gets hurt. There are so many responsible adults on hand to see that doesn’t happen. Watch the short clips I took last night to see the fun. Here and here.

Is this too dangerous? Should this tradition be stopped? Would you let your children brave the fire jump? What do you think?

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