As in all community festivals, fire festivals bring all the generations together. Children are introduced to the mysteries, culture of the celebration from a very young age. In all the villages, they play a very active role and, in many villages, there are specific celebrations for them. The festivals survive thanks to the passion and knowledge that is passed on from generation to generation.
Andorra “falles of light”
Historically, it was children who whirled the fallas, but when the celebration was revived in the eighties, adults took over in order to prevent the children being hurt. With the passage of time, however, a new celebration was invented. Children, dubbed “fallaires de llum” (fallaires of light) now whirl balls of light, similar to those of the adults.
This helps children to learn about and take part in the festival. Like the adults, children wear a cape and “junior fallaires” (fallaires menors) are elected to preside over the festival and represent it for a year. Children then undergo a “Baptism of Fire,” which allows them to carry falles of fire, but they never forget their time as fallaires of light!
Children carry falles that are suitable for their age. They also bring falles down the mountain, but on a shorter route. When they are older, they join the adults.
The children are generally the first to arrive, accompanied by their parents. They are then followed by the older adults, and lastly, the younger adults. There are beacons located quite close to the village, so that children don’t have to walk so far. This enables them to experience the festival in all its intensity, but on a smaller scale.
It should be noted that in periods of crisis, it was children who kept the festivities alive. The festival was seen as childish, inappropriate for adults, but paradoxically it was the children who ensured its survival.
Children and brandons
Children are also involved in celebrating brandons in Occitania. In some villages they light the brandon, although this is unusual and the task usually falls to the mayor or a village personality. The children act mainly as spectators.
It is only in Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges that they have a more important role: there is a workshop to make halhes and, at night, it is the girls and boys who light the brandon and spin halhes over their heads.
The survival of the festival
One of the challenges is to ensure that the festival is passed down to the next generation. The flame must be passed down every year from grandparents, parents, and godparents to children, and for this reason, the Virtual Museum has a section called the “Children’s Museum,” which offers educational resources, stories, games, and other activities for children.