Sunday, September 02, 2018
A must at the end of summer in Aix, the great Calisson festival will celebrate its 24th anniversary on September 2nd.
Aix-en-Provence’s speciality, Calisson is part of Aix’s heritage.
10:15 am: Folk welcome and Sunday Mass in Saint-Sauveur Cathedral with renewed Martelly vow.
11:30 am: From the Cathedral, parade to join the Cours Mirabeau with the Virgin of Calissons, carried by the calisson-makers, chocolate-makers and confectioners.
2pm: Provençal dances and music at the top of Cours Mirabeau, in front of the Roy René fountain.
2:45pm : Top of Cours Mirabeau – Gathering of folk groups and authorities to join Saint-Jean-de-Malte church.
3pm: Procession along Cardinale Street to the square in front of Saint-Jean.
3:05 pm.: In the square in front of the church, choreography by the Marie-Hélène Desmaris company, accompanied by the Launeddas clarinet quartet.
3:10pm: Blessing of the Calissons of Aix in the presence of the Archbishop of Aix and Arles.
4:45pm : Procession back to the podium (at the top of Cours Mirabeau)
5pm: Distribution of calissons d’Aix.
But where does this tradition come from?
In 1630 the city of Aix was violently affected by a terrible epidemic of plague. As the situation continued to get worse, the authorities finally fled the city. Only the provost of the Jean-Nicolas chapter, Consul Borilli and assessor Joseph Martelly remained.
On 20 January 1630, the latter vowed to have a thanksgiving service dedicated to the Virgin of the Seds (patron saint of the city of Aix) celebrated every first Sunday in September in order to benefit from her protection.
It was during one of these services that the famous Calisson of Aix was blessed and distributed.
At the end of the epidemic, it was then naturally thought that the calisson protected against the plague. Fortunately, since then the evil has fortunately disappeared, but calissons remained and the vow pronounced by the assessor was perpetuated.