Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fête de la Musique

Happy Jāņi! Today is the Latvian name day of Jānis and Žanis. The name day tradition is celebrated in many countries, Latvia and France among them, and consists of celebrating the day of the year associated with one's given name.

In France, today is the Fête de la Saint-Jean (feast of St. John), which is traditionally celebrated with bonfires (le feu de la Saint-Jean). It is believed that the bonfire rites go back to the pagan rituals of Midsummer’s night, although today the catholic festival is in celebration of Saint John the Baptist. One source reports that in medieval times, this festival was celebrated with cat-burning rituals. Thankfully there will be no cat-burning in Clermont-Ferrand, but sadly I don’t know of a bonfire occurring here either.

A fête which was celebrated here in Clermont was the Fête de la Musique, also known as World Music Day. The music festival took place on June 21st and has an interesting history that binds the Americans and the French in yet another way. In 1976 American musician Joel Cohen proposed an all-night music celebration in France to mark the beginning of the summer solstice. It was first realized in 1982 in Paris, and has since spread to 32 countries worldwide. 

In Clermont-Ferrand the streets were full of amateur and professional musicians. There were concerts and unorganized jams, all for free. The noise and crowds weren’t the most child-friendly and so we mostly enjoyed the festivities from our window, watching the people on their way to and from Place de Jaude and listening to strains of music floating our way now and then.

The celebrations took a different twist later on that night, as revelers returning home kept us awake with yelling and honking until well after midnight, but as it was all in the name of music (and you’re not supposed to sleep on Jāņu night anyways) I didn’t get too upset. I only wish Mikus had gotten the memo about sleeping in…

1 comment:

  1. It is definitely much better when the 21st of June falls on a weekend.


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