All set for the St. John's Eve festivities

As every year, on the evening and night of the 23rd of June Barcelona will celebrate the summer solstice with bangers, bonfires, music, St. John's Cake and the arrival of the Canigou Flame

The St. John's Eve party, with fireworks, bangers, bonfires and witches, is a tradition that is both ancestral and rooted in the present. While it is celebrated in many different ways throughout the country, in Barcelona it usually takes the form of gatherings of neighbourhood residents, families or friends with food, music and bonfires. It is also celebrated in the form of open-air jamborees in the many district plazas and streets with firework displays, dances and partying till dawn.

The night of the 23rd is a magical one that is given over to the celebration of the summer solstice. The St. John's Eve festivities were originally a pagan ritual in which the sun and the lengthening of the day were worshipped and since the earliest days of Christianity has coincided with the birthday of Saint John the Baptist, making it a festival that embraces numerous symbolic elements and traditions – the purifying fire, midnight baths, St. John's wort, songs, dances, healings and other magic rituals.

Since the mid-20th century the festival has also coincided with the arrival of the Flama de Canigó, or Canigou Flame, an increasingly more popular and firmly tradition ritual that evokes the common identity of the Catalan speaking territories. Throughout the year the flame in question is stationed in the tower of Perpignan Castle, only to be taken to the summit of Canigou Mountain on the 22nd of June, where it is passed around among those present before beginning its tour of hundreds of villages, towns and cities in order to light the local St. John's bonfires. 

The Canigou Flame will arrive in Barcelona on the 23rd at 5.30 pm, where it will continue its route through the city's streets. At 6 pm the Flame will be officially welcomed in the Plaça de Sant Jaume with the traditional Dance of the Eagle, parade of Giants and the distribution of St. John's "coca", or cake, and medicinal herbs. At 7 pm the Flame will be accompanied by the singing of the traditional Catalan song "Muntanyes de Canigó" (Canigou Mountains), dances, the lighting of the crucible, the reading of the traditional message, speeches and the National Hymn of Catalonia. Following these events the Flame will be taken through the city's districts to light the local bonfires, thereby signalling the commencement of the multitude of events that have been programmed. A complete programme is available here.

St. John's Eve party

When: the 23th of June

Tickets: free entrance

Where: different places

More information here

Publication date: Thursday, 18 June 2015
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