Fête des Fontaines (fountain festival)

On 12 September 1814 the Federal Diet accepted Neuchâtel into the Swiss Confederation. However, the canton continued to be ruled by the King of Prussia, who banned the people of Val-de-Travers from celebrating this new status. Not to be cowed and true to their rebellious spirit, they chose the traditionalFête des Fontainesas a subterfuge for their planned festivities. Today, most villages in Val-de-Travers celebrate 1 March 1848 – the date of the Neuchâtel Revolution – but there are two villages, Buttes and Môtiers, which staunchly uphold the old tradition. On the afternoon of 12 September, all of the fountains in the two villages are adorned with decorations, some more elaborately than others, ranging from a scattering of candles to detailed tableaux. In the evening, the local brass band and school children parade through the village, with locals joining them along the way. The children, who are dressed according to the given theme of that year, stop at each fountain to sing a song, while the brass band plays during the interludes. The people responsible for “crowning” the fountain stand beside their work to receive words of congratulation and praise. Even in the early days, there was never an official organising committee, with the local communities preferring a more spontaneous approach to the festival preparations. The local schools and brass bands play a key role in upholding this fine tradition.

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Report on the "Fête des fontaines" in Môtiers, by local primary school children (broadcast on 7 February 2001) © Radio Télévision Neuchâtel/Département audiovisuel de la Bibliothèque de la Ville de La Chaux-de-Fonds


Dans une semaine à Môtiers et à Buttes, la fête des Fontaines. In : Courrier du Val-de-Travers, 5 septembre 1991

Demain soir, couronnées, les fontaines seront illuminées à Môtiers et à Buttes. In : Feuille d’avis de Neuchâtel, 11 septembre 1973

Demain soir, la Fête des fontaines à Môtiers et à Buttes. In : Courrier du Val-de-Travers, 11 septembre 1986

La fête des fontaines au Vallon. Pour que revive une coutume. In : Courrier du Val-de-Travers, 8 septembre 1978

Fontaines en fête à Môtiers et à Buttes. In : Courrier du Val-de-Travers, 10 septembre 2009

Lundi soir Fête des Fontaines à Buttes et à Môtiers. In : Courrier du Val-de-Travers, 8 septembre 2005

Grégoire Mayor, Alice Sala : La Fête des Fontaines de Môtiers, 2011 (vidéo)

Edouard Quartier-la-Tente : Le Val-de-Travers Le canton de Neuchâtel. Revue historique et monographique des communes du canton de l’origine à nos jours. Série 3. Neuchâtel, 1893

Une seconde jeunesse pour la Fête des fontaines de Môtiers. In : Feuille d’avis de Neuchâtel, 7 septembre 1978




Centre culturel du Val-de-Travers

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