On the night of June 23, Catalonia and the rest of the Catalan Countries celebrate the Nit de Sant Joan (Night of Saint John), which coincides with the summer solstice. Nobody is quite sure of the origin of this celebration. What is sure, though, is that it is a magical night in which fire plays a major role. Many bonfires burn all night in small towns, in front of farms and throughout neighbourhoods in the cities. And all over Catalonia there is an amazing display of firecrackers and fireworks, colourfully illuminating the summer night.
In 1955 an old tradition related to St. Joan was reinstated; since then, Catalans have annually lit a bonfire at the Canigó mountain, in the Pyrenees of Northern Catalonia. On the morning of June 23, they take a flame from the Canigó mountain and carry it around the Catalan Countries lighting many thousands of bonfires. During the years of Franco’s dictatorship in the State of Spain, the celebration of the Flama del Canigó had to be done in secrecy, except in the French territories, due to the fact that the flame is a symbol that represents the Catalan culture and its hope for persistence.