Sant John’s night (23th to 24th of June) well known in Catalan Countries as La Nit de Sant Joan or Revetlla de Sant Joan (in catalan), Verbena de San Juan (spanish). During this night, people gather with family or friends to have dinner “al fresco” (in the cool air) and make campfires on the beach. The St. John night, is the shortest of the year due to its proximity to the summer solstice.
Sant Joan feast beginnings
The origin of this feast is related to paganism, to the celebrations of the summer solstice, in the Northern Hemisphere, and also to Christianity. Catholicism tells us that Zacharias lit a bonfire to announce the birth of his son John the Baptist, and hence comes the tradition of bonfires. Before Christianity settled in Europe, people lit fires with the aim of giving “strength” to the sun which, from the summer solstice, believed, that its power declined, as the days began to get shorter. At the same time they believed that the fire purified and frightened the evil spirits.
La Nit de Sant Joan a great party in Barcelona, and also in many beaches in Catalonia summer welcome. People take the first sea bath this night. The beaches are full of people picnicking, dancing around the fire, skipping campfire and partying in the summer season.
Like all Saints, Sant Joan also has his typical cake called “Coca de Sant Joan” made with nuts and candied fruits. Coca and Cava are a perfect match for this celebration. Another typical thing at this time is firecrackers and fireworks. The children spend the whole night, and the day after, dropping firecrackers through the city. A real madness!.
Interactive map of the Sant Joan bonfire
Happy St. John’s Eve!! 😉