Customs and traditions surrounding the coca tart of Sant Joan

There are different kinds of coca tarts: some are made with fruit, pine kernels or marzipan, or filled with custard, and there is the coca de llardons [suet pastry]. These are washed down with a good cava or muscatel wine and they are essential features of the Night of Sant Joan. There are many kinds of coca and it is sometimes difficult to agree on which one to get: Some people don’t like ones with a filling and others don’t like candied fruit. Bakers and pastry-makers produce thousands of coca tarts every year, although some people prefer to make them at home.

Whatever the coca may be, they have been a typical Sant Joan delicacy since the 19th century, when they were first included in the celebrations. In the old days, they were round with a hole in the middle; the shape is said to have represented the sun. It was baked at home and people had to eat it outdoors, because country folk thought that eating it under a roof would bring bad luck.

Coca tarts were included in the revetlla celebrations in 1860 and by 1900 they had become an essential element. At first, they were often accompanied by sweet or old wine, but nowadays that has given way to cava. Tradition says that Sant Joan coca tarts must have a canonical form, twice as long as it is wide, and with rounded corners. The ratio between a coca tart’s width and length is the same as the proportions of day and night on Sant Joan.