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Catalan folklore

Viva Saint John In Barcelona

Written by Brian S

The festival of Saint John (or “Sant Joan” in Catalan) has always been one of the most magical celebrations of traditional Catalan culture. Les festes del foc, as this tradition is also called, are followed in Catalonia, plus País Valencià and the Balearic Islands. The reason for the celebration is to commemorate the summer solstice, a pagan event, but that the Catholic Church renamed it the Sant Joan festival due to the coincidence with the birth of another Saint John, Saint John of Bautista. This party is full of fun, joy, and mystery in Barcelona. Like every important celebration, the Saint John festival has its own identity dessert, its characteristic rituals and all the joy of a celebration that opens the door to summer. From ShBarcelona we talk about the “Sant Joan” party and what activities you can live in Barcelona.

Related Article: Catalan Christmas Traditions

Saint John, The Rituals

Photo credit: JordiKno on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

The festival of Saint John is celebrated on June 23 and 24. June 23 is the day in which people wait until dawn and enjoy music, fire, and pyrotechnics that all families buy to contribute to the celebration. It is a night of fun and joy for the arrival of summer, good weather, and a few days off. Together with fire, a purifying element, the aim is to eliminate bad omens, get rid of terrible moments and simply eliminate the negative things in life. The shortest night of the year begins a new cycle in which, little by little, the shortest days become, until winter comes, the longest night. Coca de Sant Joan, spongy and deliciously accompanied by candied fruit, are among the specialties made for the occasion. It is made with cream or marzipan and accompanied by a good cava. For some Catalans, they refer to this night as a celebration for Catalan nationalism. It also a city not far from Barcelona. 

Related Article: Biggest celebrations in Barcelona

Photo credit: gufm on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC

Celebrations For Saint John

The most representative of the night of Saint John is fire. For this reason, one of the most popular events of this festival is the lighting of the Llama del Canigó, whose flames spread (figuratively) through different towns and cities in Catalonia. In Barcelona, the flame arrives at the Plaza Sant Jaume, an event in which giant, big heads are paraded through around the bonfires alight. Each neighborhood has its own celebration which includes fancy dinners and dancing around the fire with devils and dragons, a bestiary characteristic of Catalan folklore that includes pyrotechnics and traditional music. There are different types of activities in each district council. Finally, you can celebrate Saint John on the beaches of Barcelona. It is common to see a lot of people at the beach, light fires and set up their own party until dawn. In the morning, have chocolate churros for breakfast to top of the entire celebration.

How do you celebrate Saint Juan? Leave your opinion in the comments!

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About the author

Brian S

Brian Susbielles is a freelance writer who loves global politics, foreign movies, and Led Zeppelin

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