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On St. John’s Eve (Sant Joan in Catalan) there are a series of rituals and symbols that have developed over the years. There are three symbols that accompany this magical night:
FIRE is the main symbol of this night, it brings good luck and it’s purifying. It is said that the ashes of St. John’s fires can cure skin diseases ... The second symbol is WATER, it is said that during this period, waters have healing powers. It’s because of this that it’s very common to swim in the sea in the morning of Sant Joan. The third and last symbol is represented by HERBS, especially those with therapeutic properties.
Throughout the day (June 23rd) people dance, sing and eat.
Meals are organized in every town and neighborhood for families and friends. They eat delicious dishes, drink the Catalan Cava and eat the traditional “Coca de Sant Joan” (a pastry covered with cream and nuts) for dessert.
Bonfires are prepared with old furniture and junk during the days before. On the 23rd children place a doll “ninot” on the top of the bonfire. When the sun sets the fires are lit with torches and the festivities begin.
Traditionally bonfires are lit to give strength to the sun, as it was believed that the sun was losing strength from this night until it reaches the winter solstice because the days became shorter. According to other legends the fires also purify the people who observe them. There are also different traditions around bonfires: people throw spells and desires into the fire, jump over the flames or walk over the coals once the fire has gone out. It is said that couples who jump together, stay together.
At night people enjoy folklore music, fireworks and concerts along the streets and on the beaches people have picnics, they bathe, sing and dance all night until dawn.
The festival of St. John (Sant Joan) is a joyful celebration, a magical night and probably one of the most beloved holidays of the year! Do not miss it!