Pyrenees Fire Festival - summer solstice

Pyrenees Fire Festival - summer solstice

The Pyrenees summer solstice fire festivals is on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

The Pyrenees summer solstice fire festivals in the Pyrenees' candidature to UNESCO was put forward by the Andorran government and included 63 Catalan, Spanish and French villages in the Pyrenees which celebrate this festival.

The summer solstice day is the day which has the longest period of daylight when the sun is at its zenith. 

The Pyrenees fire festivals is celebrated throughout the Pyrenees both on the French and Spanish side and in Andorra. This tradition of fire festivals, called Falles, has been held in Pyrenean mountain villages for centuries and originates in traditions to thank the gods for the harvest.

Fire symbolised the sun and the fire festivals in the Pyrenees are all centred on creating fire to celebrate the summer solstice. Fire is carried using flaming torches from the mountains to light traditionally constructed beacons and start festivals in the Pyrenees villages to bless and purify the fields and protect the people and ward off evil spirits.

The firey descent also has special significance for young people symbolizing the transition from youth to adult.

In the Catalonia province of Spain many villages and towns including Boí, Taüll, Erill la Vall, Barruera, Durro, El Pont de Suert, Llesp, Casós, Vilaller, Senet, Arties, Les, Isil, Alins and La Pobla de Segur celebrate fire festivals.

The way each village uses fire can vary significantly. One of the oldest fire festivals known takes place in the village of Isil, where logs are set on fire at midnight so the carriers - portadors - can carry them over their shoulders.

In Andorra la Vella, the tiny mountain locked microstate in the Pyrenees mountains, locals use fire balls that are swung around. And in Arties in the Province of Lleida in Spain they drag a big burning log through the village streets.

The word solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still). Mont Perdu in the Pyrenees mountains is also on the UNESCO world heritage list and the Catalan tradition of human tower building

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Last Updated on Friday, 23 November 2018 12:02