San Juan, Saint John’s Eve or Sant Joan, is one of the most expected popular celebrations in Spain of June and the Summer time in general. The eve of the 23rd of June marks the beginning of the Summer, the endless days of sun, holidays, free time and watching sunsets from a rooftop. It is also a day of meeting with friends and family and getting to share this popular tradition, which is why we decided to bring to you in this post some of the most famous traditions on the year’s shortest night in Barcelona and surroundings. Had you heard of any of them?
Fire and bonfires
Fire is one of the main characters during San Juan’s Eve, which already reveals part of this night’s traditions. This midsummer night is all about making bonfires, especially at the beach. The tradition dates back to centuries ago when there was a belief that fire symbolized the welcoming of Summer solstice.
Another tradition that still lasts through time is the thought of fire’s light and heat to drive away evil spirits, as well as extending the amount of hours a day to give the Sun more strength, as from this night on the days start becoming shorter and shorter until Fall arrives.
Make a wish whilst jumping over a bonfire
It definitely is a risky activity, not suitable for minors and only to be considered if one is fully aware of the situation and its’ risks. During the night of San Juan many are brave enough to challenge the fire and jump over the bonfire while making a wish at the same time. If it becomes true or not, that’s only a matter of luck!
Get a taste of the “Coca of San Juan” and toast with a glass of cava
The “Coca of San Juan” is one of the highlights of June 23rd. This dessert consists of a pie made out of flour covered with glazed fruit and sugar. To go with the pie it is very common to toast with a glass of cava, a traditional sparkling wine from the provinces of Barcelona and Tarragona.
Fireworks are also a must on this summer night of celebrations. Explosions filled with colour and spark light up the night sky forming all sorts of shapes and forms and the sound of the firecrackers will be heard from far away. An authentic performance.
Swimming in the sea at night
If you celebrate San Juan’s Eve around the coast one of the most magical traditions on this night is to go for a swim after midnight when the sea is completely dark or waiting for the sun to rise, welcoming the next day.
Music and dancing
Almost everywhere you go on this night you will find streets and beaches filled with people celebrating and concerts and music going on. Those who make their bonfire will very probably be dancing around the fire. Those who don’t, will probably also be dancing under the moonlight.
Burn what is no longer useful
Like we mentioned at the very beginning fire is one of they key elements of the night of San Juan. Many people will follow the tradition of bringing with them what is no longer useful and throw it into the fire to burn. Furniture, paintings, clothing… or even last year’s school books!
Now that you’ve learnt a bit more about some of the most typical traditions of San Juan, are you in to join any of them?