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Lyon Festival of Lights Live Webcam Feed

 World Events, December , Lyon Festival of Lights
 

Event Information:

 

The Festival of Lights (French: Fête des lumières) in Lyon, France expresses gratitude toward Mary, mother of Jesus on December 8 of each year. This uniquely Lyonnaise tradition dictates that every house place candles along the outsides of all the windows to produce a spectacular effect throughout the streets. The festival, which includes other activities based on light, usually lasts 4 days, with the peak of activity occurring on the 8th. The two main focal points of activity are typically the Basilica of Fourvière which is lit up in different colours, and the Place des Terreaux, which hosts a different light show each year.

The origins of the festival date to 1643 when Lyon was struck by plague. The municipal councillors (échevins) promised to pay tribute to Mary if the town was spared. Ever since, a solemn procession makes its way to the Basilica of Fourvière on this day to light candles and give offerings in the name of Mary. The event thus commemorates the day Lyon was consecrated to the Virgin Mary.

Thus, tradition now dictates that every family in Lyon keep, along with its Christmas decorations, a collection of stained or clear glass in which candles are burnt on windowsills on the 8th of December. These stout, cinnamon-coated candles can be found in shops towards the end of November.

Nowadays, the city's council puts on professionally-run performances. The people of Lyon's participation remains strong as evidenced by numerous façades lit up in the traditional way and by the throngs of people wandering the streets on December 8.

Historians and sociologists note the rather misinformed notions that the people of Lyon have concerning the celebration's origins: confusion over the thanks given to Mary, as well as the dates involved, leads people to think the celebration commemorates the establishment of the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière or a wish granted after a plague supposedly struck in the 19th century.

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