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Collioure Memoire d'un Colliourencque .....
Collioure "I see on the beach of Boramar some boards, a little wood and I remember ... We could not keep still! We were at Serre, Guiot, Panin or Py, whatever, we all had the same mission: to make a fire that would be bigger, higher, more successful than that of our enemies in the Faubourg. So, when five o'clock came, the hour of deliverance, we rushed home to swallow our snack in two minutes and then we met at Saint-Vincent beach to resume service "Ahhhh Collioure .....
First the barrels, it took a lot. We thought of four floors, with a little luck we should get there ... Hunting; at the anchovy factories (a big word I know, but hey, be indulgent, we are in the fifties!) to see if so-and-so had one or two barrels that were no longer in use; and they were rolled through the streets to the foot of the chapel. We started the circle, then we left an opening and then there, you have to have lived it to imagine it, it was the start of the race and the hunt for any flammable object; tires: they burned well with a lot of smoke (the environment was not on the menu more than 50 years ago!), mattresses, old tables, chairs, branches, newspapers; it's simple: if it burned, we would extract it from the inhabitants of the city. Until nightfall a motley caravan made its way to the fire on the beach. And this for weeks before and after the evening meal. We returned home covered in dust and various rubbish. The unlucky ones were entitled to a good tan. Once the pyre was finished, we were all proud of the work accomplished and we looked at the beach of the suburb in the distance, trying to guess if, this year, finally, our fire was bigger, higher, more successful than that of "the others". ... And in the early morning, some of us got up early to go and see which of the two was still burning. I must admit, most of the time, it was the one in the suburb ... Tonight, I am sure that the ghosts of the past will be back on the two beaches, St-Vincent and the suburb ... ”.
The fires of Saint-Jean are part of a very respected tradition in Catalan country:
A festive evening which each year, on June 23, celebrates the summer solstice. The Canigou flame, symbol of Saint John in Catalonia, is above all a message of brotherhood and love. If everything begins at nightfall, the preparation is spread over the few days that precede. The top of Canigou is the scene of an unusual and frenetic activity: the people of the region bring bundles of branches, vines, logs to prepare a huge pyre. This fire, lit on the night of June 23, gives the signal to light all the fires in Roussillon; in each village, the fagots are set ablaze: in a short time, a myriad of lights are shining all over the plain.
This celebration of Celtic origin is accompanied here by the tradition of the Saint-Jean bouquet. A bouquet made up of four specific herbs picked on the morning of the 23rd. Tradition has it that it is a leaf of walnut, another of St. John's Wort, a third of immortelle and finally, a sprig of stonecrop. These bouquets are sometimes hung on the doors of houses to attract good luck and happiness. Many Catalans still make them, although the true composition of this magical bouquet is somewhat forgotten. We also find this tradition during the evenings of Midsummer's Day with the sale of small simple bouquets with a "blood and gold" ribbon in the colors of the Catalan flag.
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