UNESCO have noted the international effects of the pandemic on intangible cultural heritage which “have shown the scale of disruption across the world, with many significant festive events and rituals cancelled or postponed. Some communities can no longer access the cultural and natural spaces and places of memory necessary for expressing their intangible cultural heritage, while others are restricted from coming together to share and enjoy many aspects of their intangible cultural heritage, so important to them.”
Speakers of Jèrriais, Guernésiais, and other varieties of Norman have also been restricted from coming together for the annual celebration of the Norman language – La Fête Nouormande – and Jersey’s hosting of the festival in June 2020 (programmed 7-14 June) has unfortunately had to be cancelled.
Other language events in other countries have also had to put this year’s plans on hold, and to reschedule proposed hosts for future years. For example, the Royal National Mod, the Gaelic gathering in Scotland, has had to be rescheduled; the Welsh National Eisteddfod has had to be postponed for a year; the Inter-Celtic festival in Lorient is also suspended this year.
In the circumstances, travel is impossible, contact (for traditional dancing and customs) inadvisable, and audiences impractical. Online contact between associations has been maintained and developed through video, and it may be possible to put together a smaller-scale virtual event later this year. However the opportunity for Jersey to host La Fête Nouormande physically in the future is under discussion between associations and the schedule of hosts for the next few years will be decided and communicated in due course.
In the meantime, there are ways to enjoy Norman language and culture from the Islands and Continent online, and this will be further developed as planning for future festivals evolves.