Each town light a bonfire
The magic midsummer night of St Joan
Midsummer’s eve, or the Nit de Sant Joan (St John’s Eve), as the night of 23 June is called in Catalonia, is a magic night rooted in ancient traditions, one that is celebrated in every district in the province of Girona.
Fire and music take pride of place, and they come together in traditional festivities
staged out in the streets of the towns and cities. Custom demands that all the revellers sit around the bonfire and sample the traditional St. John coca
– a sponge cake made with custard and crystallised fruit – and then dance away into the early hours while firing rockets and letting off fireworks.
This festivity, which is of pagan origin and is held all over Europe to commemorate the summer solstice, has come down to our own time in Catalonia as a full-blown national festivity.
You can spend midsummer eve in any town or village in the various counties of Girona province, from the Costa Brava to the Pyrenees, but if you come along to Girona city you can join in the celebrations marking the arrival of the Canigó Flame.
The Canigó Flame has been uniting all the Països Catalans (Catalan Countries) since 1955: the Sant Joan bonfires in the various places are all lit from the same flame that is kept burning on top of Mount Canigó. The torch bearers from all the regions light their torches there and then spread out to form a network taking the flame all around the land, together with a joint message that is read out at the bonfire-lighting ceremony.
"Tres fan ball" in concert
If you are not in the city but would nevertheless like to experience a real traditional night of festivities, of the kind all the people of Girona province celebrate out in their streets, all you have to do is to go for a stroll around the streets in any town or village and follow the music or the noise of the fireworks, for behind them you are sure to find a traditional festivity where you will be welcome.