Feu de la Saint-Jean/Fête de la Musique

Le feu

The Midsummer day is merely in reference to the period  of time centered upon the summer solstice, but more often refers to specific European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice, or that take place on a day between June 21 and June 24, and the preceding evening. There can be a variation of dates between different cultures. In Estonia, Lativa and Scandinavian cultures, is it the most important holiday of the year with the exception of Christmas.

Before the flames

The French will celebrate the Fête de la Saint-Jean or le feu de la Saint-Jean, with bonfires reminiscent of pagan solstice rituals. The association with Saint-Jean was used when the Catholics adopted the tradition. In my village, the festival takes place near June 21st. The festivities are launched by a drumming group. Even though there is a DJ for the dancing to follow, the drummers stay to enjoy the festival and to lead the procession at 11:30 around the village for the lighting of the bonfire. A number of people carried colorful paper lanterns suspended on a pole as we walked about the village.

In some parts of France, the event is called Chavande and also known as Fête de la Musique. In some parts of the world it is known as World Music Day and associated with an event that was launched here in France on 21 June, 1982 and celebrates the gift of music. While music is usually a major component to any celebration here in France, it does not take center stage at this local venue.

Dinner space converts to dance space
Two members of the Drumming Circle
Two members of the Drumming Circle

The idea of the World Music Day was   conceptualized first in France in 1976 by American musician Joel Cohen who proposed an all-night music celebration to mark the beginning of the summer solstice.
The idea was taken up by French Music and Dance director Maurice Fleuret for Minister of Culture Jack Lang in 1981 and first took place in 1982 in Paris.
Since then, it has become a worldwide phenomenon with over 32 countries worldwide having their own celebrations in their own way, regardless of the season.




Bon appetit!

13 thoughts on “Feu de la Saint-Jean/Fête de la Musique

      1. You’ve got me there. I’ve never been to Malta. I did love Vietnam when I was there and if I hadn’t come to France it was high on the back-up list. xx

      2. I apologize if I brought up any of them. I was there in March of 2002 and I’ve no doubt it was changed. The colleague I went with goes often as her family is mostly in Da Nang. She tells me how it is changing and it makes me sad. I knew the developers wouldn’t keep their hands off… Please forgive me Jack. Lea

  1. This sounds so wonderful. Lea. Music, a bonfire, dancing, community, summer. Can’t get any better than that. While we hunker down here in the US, I will imagine I was celebrating in France. ❤ I hope you are doing well and staying healthy.

  2. It is amazing. Yes, I still have family and friends scattered around there. Most of the virus was north and east of Paris. We are one of the many green regions less than an hour from Spain and minutes from the Mediterranean… All is well here. In our commune of thirteen villages, there was not a single case of Covid-19. Our entire region and those around it have maintained their green status all through this.
    I hope you are taking care of yourself and staying well?

    1. How kind. Thank you. I’ve been here for nearly thirteen years and it gets better every day. This is the home my heart searched for.

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