The Festivals of Fire at the Summer Solstice on the Pyrenees, declared World Intangible Cultural Heritage
Pyrenees (Andorra, France, Spain)Desembre 2015
The UNESCO Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, meeting in Namibia in December 2015, has registered the Falles of the Pyrenees on the World List.
It is a tradition with variants, which include the descent of light torches from a high place around the village that holds the celebration or, slowing down a large pine trunk and dancing around it during the night of Saint John (24th Junes). These festivities take place in 63 different towns, on both sides of the Pyrenees, beyond geographical barriers and linguistic differences (Occitan, Catalan and Spanish), in a quite homogeneous way.
The falles represent a celebration of ancestral origin with a clear connection with the ancient worldviews of the mountain villages. In addition to the reference to the Sun, at the time of the year that has the most intensity, and the use of fire to bring light to the short summer, all the materials that they use come from the vegetation of the surroundings and, in most cases the tradition is developed in the middle of nature, making the flats fall by the mountain of the town, from the “Faro” or the hermitage where they are lit, to the main square of the town.
This festive celebration reinforces social and cultural ties, with the participation of a large part of the inhabitants of these towns and the intergenerational transmission of knowledge of the preparations for the celebration. In this way, in addition to recalling an ancient spiritual ritual, it has a clear social function, strengthening feelings of brotherhood and belonging to a specific group and landscape.
In Basque (Euskera), the language spoken in the Pyrenees before Romanization, nature is the community of all living beings, both visible and invisible (izadi), and the root of being is light ( iz), so that light and life are closely united in the prehistoric cosmology of this mountain range.
For more information you can Access to: Summer solstice fire festivals in the Pyrenees