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.


About Shaudin Melgar-Foraster

University professor and writer
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4 Responses to NIT DE SANT JOAN

  1. vermelldelx says:

    Great job at making our Catalan language and culture known in the English-speaking world from Toronto, Canada.
    Una gran tasca per fer que la llengua i cultura catalanes siguen conegudes al món anglòfon des de Toronto al Canadà.

    Yesterday night, at the very last village south of the Catalan Countries bonfires were lit in all our beaches by groups of all ages. Tonight we burn our “foguera” -bonfire- next to Guardamar church.

    Gràcies per tot, Shaudin. Quin nom és Shaudin? Tinc curiositat.

    • Thank you! I’m glad you keep visiting my blog and leaving comments.
      I think it’s important to make our culture known in other countries and I do my small part towards that. My blog, theoretically, is mainly for the purpose of explaining different aspects of my novel to my readers and to potential readers. In the novel there are many important references to the Catalan language, so I have to address this aspect. This, however, doesn’t mean I cannot write about other topics in the blog. Among those, I couldn’t forget to talk about two important and beautiful Catalan celebrations: Sant Jordi and Sant Joan.

      Ben segur que devia ser molt bonic veure les fogueres a la platja. M’hauria agradat ser-hi!
      Shaudin és un nom navaho.
      Espero que gaudeixis d’aquesta nit també!

  2. Nikolai says:

    In Norway we celebrate the Nit de Sant Joan on the same day. We call it Sankt Hans aften. I have read that the bonfires had something to do with driving away ´evil spirits´, hundreds of years ago. In Norway, we don´t have fireworks, but the whole neighbourhood usually gets together around a bonfire to eat, play games and play music. The Catalan celebration seems to be a lot bigger in scale with the carrying of the flame.

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