On the night of 23 to 24 June throughout many centuries throughout Spain the main summer holiday is celebrated – Night of San Juan. This holiday is reminiscent of the ancient Slavic Day of Ivan Kupala, which is also celebrated on June 24, but it has its own national peculiarities. In Catalonia, the festival is also called Night of the Fires or Verbena San Juan, it is very popular among the locals and is celebrated on a grand scale.

The tradition to celebrate San Juan’s Night has an ancient pre-Christian background and is associated with the summer solstice and the onset of summer. The night of Saint Juan from 23 to 24 June is the shortest in the year, therefore the holiday symbolizes the victory of light over the darkness. The main symbols of the holiday are fire, light, sun and water. In the flames of the fires that are lit all over this night, all the bad things that have accumulated over the year are consumed. The custom of lighting fires appeared from the ancient pagan cult of the sun. Also, there was a belief in the healing power of fire to drive away evil spirits or illness.

With the onset of the evening of June 23, everywhere in the streets of the city there are bonfires from old furniture and junk that are set on fire after sunset. After the symbolic burning of fires, a holiday begins. The festivities continue all night long, when in every district the city dwellers go out into the street to spend a festive dinner in the open air with friends and relatives. On the streets there are tables with treats, and in the squares of each district – scenes with live music and dancing. The traditional treat in San Juan Night in Catalonia is the “coca” pie. Coca has a round shape, symbolizing the sun, and can be sweet dessert or salty, reminiscent of pizza. The main festive drink on this day is champagne, which Catalans call “kava”. In addition to fires in the cities of Catalonia, fire performances are organized and fireworks are launched.


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