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The bonfires will burn brightly in Barcelona on the night of San Juan

By | 28 May, 2019 | 0 comments

One of the best ways to get to know a city, to truly immerse yourself in the local character, traditions and culture of its people, is to experience its most special festivals. Visiting Barcelona on the night of San Juan will mean you’ll get to know the authentic personality of the city through one of the most deeply-rooted traditions in the whole of Cataluña. Bonfires on 24 June bring the party to its climax, an event rich in traditions and symbolism.

verbena de San Juan en Barcelona

Night of San Juan: Rituals

To kick off the San Juan rituals, we suggest you learn some of the most common terms around events, which will help you understand the meaning and significance of the night of San Juan in Barcelona:

– Llama del Canigó: literally meaning the Canigó flame, this is a ritual that began in 1955 after Francesc Pujades lit a fire on top of Canigó mountain, from which all the different bonfires to mark San Juan are lit. The flame is a symbol for Catalan-speaking regions and their culture. All year round, the fire remains lit at Perpiñán Castle and, on 22 June, a torch is carried all the way to the top of Canigó Mountain. At 00:01, just after midnight, the fire is distributed amongst those in charge of carrying torches to spread the flame throughout all the different neighbourhoods and the San Juan bonfires in the region.

Àliga de la ciudad: appearing in the form of a bird and represented since the Middle Ages, this is part of the bestiary of Barcelona. The current image was created by Xavier Jansana and even has a dance of its own.

Muntanyes del Canigó: a traditional Catalan song related to love and longing.

Revetlla de Sant Joan: the popular name for the Festival of San Juan in Barcelona, where neighbours, friends and family gather together around live music and bonfires.

Coca de San Juan: a traditional sweet made with fruits, pine nuts and sometimes even pork crackling filled with cream or marzipan. They are usually accompanied with a glass of moscatel or cava.

Once you’re familiar with the most common terms, you’ll be ready to enjoy the party! Events begin on 23 June when the Canigó flame makes its way to Plaza de Sant Jaume. There, the Àliga and the Barcelona Giants will appear, mixing amongst the tourists and locals alike, all dancing to the rhythms of the Muntanyes del Canigó. Representatives from each neighbourhood will be responsible for collecting a lit torch used to light the bonfires in every quarter in the city, officially kicking off the festival, music and traditional celebrations.

But the big day doesn’t take place until 24 June with the Night of San Juan, with the Revetlla de Sant Joan, when all the parties, rituals and symbolism come together and reach an amazing climax, with the sun and fire together, creating one of the most magical festivals Barcelona ever sees. Bonfires serve to give even more strength to the sun – just two days before the summer solstice will take place – and ward off any bad omens. Songs, traditional dances and bathing under the moonlight help uncover the true majesty of the night of bonfires.

Of course, no Spanish festival would be complete without some amazing food and drink on offer. And what could be better than sampling a coca, which traditionally should be twice as long as they are wide, with rounded corners and accompanied by a glass of cava or moscatel.

Experience the Night of San Juan in Barcelona and discover all the traditions and character of this great city, where you can let yourself be carried away by the rituals and symbolism of this amazing fiesta, where the bonfires burn away the bad and draw in the good.

Categories: barcelona

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