As the summer solstice approaches, Catalonia prepares to welcome one of its most enchanting and vibrant celebrations, la nit de Sant Joan (Sant Joan’s Night) or revetlla de Sant Joan (Sant Joan’s eve).
This magical event, filled with rituals, bonfires, fireworks and joyful gatherings, takes place on the eve of June 24th, marking the beginning of summer.
Let me explain to you a little bit about how we celebrate this magical night here in Catalonia on the 23rd of June and don’t forget to join us if you are here during this celebration!! 🥳
A Rich Historical and Cultural Significance
La nit de Sant Joan has deep roots in Catalonia’s history and cultural heritage. It blends pagan and Christian traditions, symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness.
Historically, it was a time to celebrate the summer solstice, harvest abundance, and honor the power of fire as a purifying element. 🔥
It is a common belief that, during this night, the flames drive away and scare away the evil spirits.
Bonfires and Fireworks: Igniting the Night
At the heart of the Nit de Sant Joan are the fogueres (bonfires) that illuminate the beaches, squares, and neighbourhoods throughout Catalonia.
People gather around the flames, sharing laughter, food, music, and joy.
It is believed that jumping over the bonfire three times brings good luck and cleanses away negativity. I’m not the one who will try that haha 🤪
As the night unfolds, a dazzling display of fireworks lights up the sky, adding an extra touch of magic to the celebration.
How do we celebrate this night?
One of the most captivating traditions during la Nit de Sant Joan in Catalonia is the lighting of the Flama del Canigó (The Canigou Flame).
The Flama del Canigó is a symbolic flame that never extinguishes, and during the whole year, it is located in the Perpignan Castellet.
On the 22nd of June, la Flama del Canigó is carried to the top of Mount Canigó, located in the Pyrenees Mountains. This flame represents the unity and connection of all Catalans, both within Catalonia and around the world. At midnight, the flame is carefully carried down from the mountain and shared with different towns and cities throughout Catalonia, where it becomes the central source for lighting bonfires during the celebration.
Families and friends come together for festive dinners (mussels are very typical as well as different types of food like a “pica-pica” as we say here, little bites of different food) with music, toasting with cava (Catalan sparkling wine) and indulging in the famous dessert of this night, which is coca de Sant Joan, a delicious typical yeast bread decorated with pine nuts (fact: I’m allergic to pine nuts!!!) and candied fruits (which I also don’t like haha, give me a plain yeast bread to me! 🙋).
Feel free to try and make your own coca de Sant Joan, here you will find the recipe 😋
We also like to light up petards (fireworks). Two weeks before Sant Joan, you will see little cabins around the cities that sell fireworks for adults and children. From then until after Sant Joan you can hear fireworks at any time of the day. However, the big night is on the 23rd of June.
La Nit de Sant Joan is a magical celebration that captivates the senses and brings communities together. From the crackling bonfires and mesmerizing fireworks to the joyous gatherings on the beaches and terraces, this enchanting night is a time to embrace tradition, ignite wishes, and welcome the summer with open arms. ☀️
If you find yourself in Catalonia during this mystical celebration, immerse yourself in the joyful atmosphere, and create memories that will last a lifetime! ✨
Have you ever celebrated la Nit de Sant Joan?
Note: Remember to check local guidelines and regulations for this year’s celebrations and adapt accordingly to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.