Sant Joan in Spain is the midsummer solstice celebration marking the start of the summer season and the day with the longest period of daylight in the year. In Spain and Catalonia the Sant Joan celebrations are on the evening of the 23rd June.
The day after is the 24th June and this is Saint John's day and a public holiday in Catalonia and Spain. The Sant Joan fiestas, are called “verbenas”, open air celebrations that take place from sundown to sunrise on the night before Saint John's day, also called la Nit de Sant Joan. Traditionally the summer solstice was considered the most important event of the solar year. Fire was celebrated on this day as the symbol of purification, abundance and fertility.
The biggest element of the festival of Sant Joan is fire. There are bonfires everywhere. You can also join in the rituals of fire purification to cleanse your sins and rid yourself of bad luck by burning something. Old furniture is often used for the bonfire to symbolise a gesture of "out with the old - in with the new! Another is that you write down whatever you wish for, throw the note on the fire and then leap into the air three times.
Water is another important element of Sant Joan. According to tradition, on the eve of Sant Joan you can cleanse your sins in watersymbolising the baptisms of Sant John. According to belief, a swim will cure all your ails, aches and pains. The water temperature is around 20-22 degrees at this time of year, so it's a pleasant experience. Watching the Sant Joan sunrise is an important part of the Nit de Sant Joan and a good excuse for partying all night.
There is a strong tradition of fireworks in Catalonia probably stemming from the days of the arab invasions. Firecracker - "petardos" - shops and huts spring up all over Catalonia and are usually open 10 days before the Night of Sant Joan. Now you’ve been warned! So don’t be too surprised by the frequent explosions that you will be hearing in the streets this day and the days following. People just go wild about buying and burning these things in parks and streets everywhere.
Lastly but not least, the food! Food is always a big part of a Catalan festival. It is a tradition to eat Catalan 'Coca' dessert. Coca consists of a bread base topped with fillings of various kinds. Cream, cherries, sugar, pork rinds, just to name a few.
So to keep with the tradition I'd like to give you a few ideas:
Take a walk at the Botanic Gardens and get purified by the essences of mediterranean wild thyme and rosemary,
Eat coca and drink cava at one of the terraces of Lloret de Mar and enjoy the party atmosphere,
Take a magic dip in the sea at Fenals Beach under the moonlight,
Throw firecrackers with the great company of friends and family,
Watch the sunrise from the beach as the rays of sun fill of gold the Costa Brava silhouette.
The sun will be coming out at 6.25 on June 24th.
How did you live your Revetlla de Sant Joan? Please comment and tell us about your experience.