The festival of San Juan – or Sant Joan – is one of the most magical and fun festivals in Barcelona. Traditionally the festival of San Juan is closely related to summer, as it is the shortest night of the year. For this reason, this festivity is a big favourite of many people in Barcelona, who are eager for summer to arrive. San Juan also has magical and mysterious connotations, as it is a special night to perform spells and rituals, with the intention of solving conflicts and as protection against the evil eye, by purifying ourselves with fire and to rise from the ashes. This year, in this article by ShBarcelona about San Juan, we are going to tell you more about this fun event and how you can enjoy it most.
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How to celebrate San Juan in Barcelona
The festivity of San Juan is an event that is celebrated by the whole community in many different ways. In Barcelona, it is a popular celebration with neighbourhood gatherings, dining with friends or family, playing music and lighting bonfires. Magical rituals are also performed, to ward off bad vibrations or curses. On the afternoon of June 23, the Flame of Canigó arrives at Plaça de Sant Jaume, where it is received by the municipal authorities, the Àliga de la Ciudad and the Gegantes de la Ciudad (the giants), while the song “Muntanyes del Canigó” is being played. After this, the representatives of each neighbourhood collect the fire that will light the bonfires throughout the whole city. With the lighting of the bonfires the festivities in the squares and streets of Barcelona’s neighbourhoods begin, and also the outdoor dinners, pyrotechnic shows, dances and parties during the shortest night of the year.
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The origin of this festival is associated with celebrations commemorating the arrival of the summer solstice, whose main rite is to light a bonfire. The purpose of this rite was to “give more strength to the sun”, which becomes “weaker” after this day. Symbolically, the fire has a “purifying” function for people, by frightening evil spirits and emphasizing on things we want to improve or change in our life, in order to renew ourselves. One of the beliefs of San Juan is, that a couple who jumps over the bonfire together, will receive happiness and luck. Another belief is that a girls throws a braided garland over the flames to her lover, and he must catch it, before it catches fire. The garland is kept as a talisman of good fortune, and in some cases, part of the garland’s ribbon will be burnt at home, in order to protect its residents and animals. Some people dive into the waves of the sea, in order to receive its strength. A common tradition during the night of San Juan, is to take a bowl and put talismans in it, such as jewelry, seashells or river stones. Leave them out all night, to cleanse them under the light of the moon, and remove them first thing in the morning. Dry the jewelery and talismans now, as this will clean them and keep you from receiving any bad luck.
Do you know any other San Juan rituals?
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