Jour des brandons

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This is an old custom common to all the Channel Islands on the first Sunday in Lent. Young people used to assemble close to home and dance around a lighted bonfire. The brandons were torches made of straw and resin, or sometimes just wisps of straw. They were passed from one reveller to another and the youngsters leapt over the bonfire. The name of the day had spread from France as dimanche des brandons or jour des brandons, although in Alderney, the wearing of masks led to the name jour des vitres.

THe dance was said to have a bacchanalian origin and there are references to it in a 17th century Guernsey diary, and as late as 1815. It probably died out because of concerns about the threat posed to thatched roofs by the participants throwing the brasndonsas they returned home.

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