Friday, 7 December 2012

A Little Winter Magic

Fairytale lights in Lyon this 8th December.

Tomorrow 8th December marks the start of the 'Fête des Lumières' in Lyon, the town where I grew up. The festival originally lasted one night only, but in recent years it has become an internationally acclaimed event which lasts three nights and is attended by thousands of visitors.

There is some confusion regarding the origins of the Fête des Lumières but there is no doubt that it was always dedicated to the Virgin Marie, under whose protection the city was placed in the Middle Ages. Even though some claim that the festival dates back from the Renaissance, when the Virgin Marie answered the prayers of the people of Lyon and saved the city from the plague which raged in the rest of France, the tradition really started on 8th December 1852. when a statue dedicated to the Virgin was inaugurated on top of the Fourvière hill. The celebrations planned for the event had to be cancelled because of a violent storm, so when the storm finally stopped later in the evening, the people lit up up candles they placed on their window sills and took to the street to celebrate. The tradition has carried on until this day.

I have lovely memories of the Fête des Lumières...

I used to help my mother light up the candles in the red, green or gold coloured 'lumignons' we kept year after year, and place them on all the window sills of our house. I loved watching the candle lights flicker until late during the night. The whole town looked magical, straight out of fairy tale.

Things have changed a lot since then and the Fête des Lumières has become a lot more spectacular. Colourful videos are projected onto the town's facades and fountains, and into the sky, illuminating monuments and the rivers.

I hope you will enjoy this little bit of winter magic...

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  1. What a lovely story. Gorgeous pictures too. It's so interesting to read the different celebrations and customs from other countries. Thanks for a great post.

  2. Thank you for visiting Beverley and for your comment. Yes, there are many fascinating traditions. I am glad you found the Fête des Lumières interesting.