Celebrations aren’t just for Christmas …

Ariège, Festivals, France, Pyrénées

We’re asked to celebrate celebrating this week, in the Lens-Artists Challenge. I’ve decided not to focus on Christmas, but instead take us to a small town in France, in the Pyrenees – to Seix – in June, where every year, like so many other mountain settlements, they celebrate Transhumance. Here’s what I wrote in June 2011:

CELEBRATING TRANSHUMANCE IN THE HAUT-SALAT

Transhumance.  It’s that time of year where here in the Pyrénées, the cattle and sheep are moved from their winter quarters down on their lowland(ish) farms up to the lush summer pastures in the mountains.  They’ll stay there till Autumn, and then be brought down again.  And each time, it’s the excuse for a party.

On Saturday, we joined in, and went over to Seix to meet friends who live there.  The Transhumance celebrations in Haut Salat last three days, but we made do with Saturday morning.  We nearly arrived late – very late – because we found ourselves behind a herd of cattle making their steady way along the road.  Overtaking’s not an option: the cows commandeered this route hundreds of years ago.  But we managed to zip down a side road and make a detour.  A whole hour later, after coffee with our friends, the herd reached the edge of Seix and passed their door….

…and finished their long walk into town.  We went too, and arrived just as the last flocks of sheep were arriving, to be corralled like the cattle, at the edge of the town square.  For a while, and probably much to their relief, they were no longer centre stage.

Instead it was jollity of the traditional kind. There were processions of large solemn plaster effigies, local bands.  Dancers from Gascony, the Basque country, the Landes made sure we all had fun, and Malcolm and I even joined in some Basque dancing.  Stars of the show for us were the shepherds from the Landes.  Theirs is flat, marshy country, and they used to keep their eyes on their roving flocks by ranging round on stilts.  But this was a day for dancing, and that’s just what they did, up high on those stilts.  Have a look at the photos.

We went off for lunch at the end of the morning.  But there was more celebrating, more meals to be shared, particularly by those farmers and country people who over the centuries have welcomed the fellowship of Transhumance as a break from the routines of an often lonely life.

42 thoughts on “Celebrations aren’t just for Christmas …

    1. Yes, transhumance is still a thing, though I was disappointed to learn that these days, they often go from here to there in big transporters, only walking for a bit at either end of their journey.

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  1. How fun to see a herd of cattle and those sheep. That is such a unique shoes. Wonderful to see young kids there. Thank you for the tour of the local traditional celebration, Margaret!

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  2. I love all the colours of the costumes! It looks like a wonderful festival to be part of, a reminder of the cycle of the seasons that governs all farming activity 🙂

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  3. It looks like a wonderful time spent on a summer weekend. I love the festivals and celebrations away from the big city. These celebrate the true human condition of scratching out a life and the importance of community. I hope all is well in your world. Peace.

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  4. The photos today reminded me of the time we were in the Pyrenees and came across a procession of people on stilts with very large models which they carried on their backs in a procession through the streets. I think it was Argles sur Mer. We spoke to a family who were from a village near Barcelona, who classed themselves as Catelonians. They met each year to maintain close links with the French villagers, and worked hard to create their giant models to parade in the festivities each year.

    On Thu, 9 Dec 2021 at 09:21, From Pyrenees to Pennines wrote:

    > margaret21 posted: ” We’re asked to celebrate celebrating this week, in > the Lens-Artists Challenge. I’ve decided not to focus on Christmas, but > instead take us to a small town in France, in the Pyrenees – to Seix – in > June, where every year, like so many other mountain sett” >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh brilliant. Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. The Catalan branch of the family has arrived….

      I want to catch up with you after Christmas, and hope you contrive to have a time with some pleasures and contentment xx

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