Wine Sunshine and Community Love

During a hiking trip in France, a group of us found a rare example of a real united, loving community in the town of Arbois.

Arriving by mini bus, the only parking place we found was by the town church.

Arbois church where the biou harvest festival is celebrated

Arbois church

It was a scorching hot day and about 6 of us were drawn toward the cool interior of the church.

We were greeted by an intense sweet aroma of fermenting grapes which was a complete surprise to all of us. We were puzzled by the source of the smell until somebody stepped in a dark sticky patch in the centre of the aisle!

Suspended high above us was a curious object which appeared to be made
of thousands of grapes!

On further investigation we discovered it was the centre of a local ceremony celebrating the grape harvest.

Biou grape harvest

The Biou

The wine growers work together and construct a biou made of hundreds of bunches of grapes.
The biou is then paraded through town to the church where it is hoisted up and left in place for 3 weeks. The parade is accompanied by violin players and fruit bearers.
It is offered up to God to give thanks for the harvest.
The ceremony dates back over 450 years.

What particularly moved me was the depth of community and connection in the town which is focused through this ceremony.
It brings all the growers in the area together with a strong sense of common purpose.
During the 3 week period the intensity of the aroma in the church grows and magnifies the sense of community purpose within the congregation.
There was a real sense of community and connection there as if everybody really cared about their neighbours.

I feel this sense of community is exceptional in modern society and should be encouraged.
Yes, the Harvest Festival is celebrated in many cultures, but what is it’s impact in the larger community?

How can we use this example to improve our sense of community?
What can we meaningfully celebrate each year that is not overshadowed by commercial enterprises?

Your thoughts are appreciated.
Do post your comments below.

[ I have since discovered an excellent travel blog about Arbois and the Biou at http://sandyschopbach.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/le-biou-wine-making-festival-in-arbois.html    Thank you Sandy ! ]

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