Sant Joan bonfires
Sant Joan announces the arrival of summer. Before that, the solstice of 21 June opens the astronomical door to summer and closes the winter door, directing us towards the good weather. So, we get together on the night of 23 June, Sant Joan, for a joint celebration.
There are many ways to celebrate this festival, which has pagan roots and lots of different local features, but fire is the central element in all of them. Fogueres, falles, etc. are the bonding element in the community, which gathers round the fire while eating a slice of coca.
In Barcelona the celebrations are really lively, with revetlles in the streets and squares, roof terraces packed with people launching rockets that paint the sky with light and colour, but the most eye-catching element, the one that stands out are the fogueres, the bonfires in squares and at crossroads round the city. Barcelona's bonfires are built by local residents and associations that look for bits of wood and any old junk to burn. In times gone by, groups of children and teenagers competed to get hold of this flammable material and, if they had to, pinched it from the neighbouring bonfire so they could build a bigger one.
Today, after a period of decline, the numbers of bonfires in the city are growing as interest grows in the Flama del Canigó, the flame brought down from this Pyrenean mountain used to light all of them.