|Tourist Info > Festivals, events and traditions|
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The rich and varied historical heritage of (...)
Carnival Time in France Youpi, (...)
Fete de l’Ours et carnaval de Prats de (...)
Fete de la Belle Epoque The "Belle Epoque" (...)
Fete de la Musique - June Every year (...)
September Fete de Mailly - Port Vendres (...)
Fete de Mailly - Port Vendres September In (...)
Feux de la Saint Jean
In the fifth (...)
LA CASTANYADA 1st November Here in (...)
Pancake Day in France 2nd February (...)
La Fête des Rois (Three Kings Day) The (...)
La Toussaint (All Saints Day) - Festival of (...)
La Trobada La Trobada du Canigou A (...)
Lundi de Pentecôte (Whit Monday) in France (...)
Midsummer Madness - Els Focs de la Sant Jean (...)
Pessebres vivants .... real people acting (...)
International dog team racing The (...)
November 25th La Sainte Catherine (...)
December The AFM Telethon (l’Association
The Canigou race - Vernet-les-Bains At (...)
Feux de la Saint Jean
In the fifth century the Church placed the longest day of the year under the sign of Saint John the Baptist. Despite it’s beginnings in Christianity, that date is linked with ancient practices and white magic
For example, the curative powers of local herbs such as rosemary, thyme and verbena are supposed to be 100 times stronger on the eve of Saint Jean. Verbena in particular, and carlina (a type of thistle shaped like the sun) apparently act as an aphrodisiac, and if nailed to the door, protect from evil spirits and prevent ‘mauvaises fées’ (bad fairies) entering the house.
Animals were washed on that night to protect them from harm for the rest of the year, dew was gathered at dawn to cure illness, fires were lit to burn broken and worn out household items and to signal from village to mas to ermitage, Celebrations took place everywhere.
During the Second World War, the occupation and curfew put a temporary end to these nighttime traditions.
The first midsummer fire on Canigou in modern times was lit on 23 June 1955 by Francois Poujade and fellow USAP rugby fanatics – both to celebrate his birthday and Perpignan’s victory over FC Lourdes in the Yves du Manoir Challenge cup. Between 1957 and 1963, a local group of young people devoted to good causes, enlarged the event, extending the midnight fires to 20 further hill tops and watch towers. French Catalonia was truly ablaze!