Barcelona welcomes summer with a big celebration on the night of June 23rd and 24th known as the Eve of Sant Joan (Saint John).
What events will take place on the night of Saint John?
The Flame of Canigou
The streets of Barcelona will be filled with 60 popular gathering spots while 23 bonfires begin to ignite. Flame of Canigou has the honor of lighting all the bon fires except one, Horta-Guinardó. The Flame of Canigou will first arrive at Plaça de Sant Jaume only a few hours before the start of the feast that welcomes summer solstice.
According to tradition, the flame of Canigou will arrive in Barcelona on June 23rd. It’s an event that the city has been celebrating for over 50 years. This fire goes to the Canigó Massif, in the north of Catalonia, and crosses Catalonia to ignite the bonfires in hundreds of cities. The celebration will start in Plaça de Sant Jaume at 5 pm with the dances by the Giants and Eagles of the city.
At 7 pm everyone takes the flame of Canigó to light the different bonfires in the city. This first part of the Saint John festivities is perfect for the little ones.
Bonfires, Firecrackers and Fireworks
Each neighborhood has its own bonfire and New Year’s Eve meal
There is a total of 23 bonfires, in all areas of the city, with the exception of Horta-Guinardó. They made the decision to ban firecrackers, so instead there will be a concert that happens in the square right in front of Mercat del Guinardó. This is a good alternative if you are with young children, it ensures safety and avoids noise. Find here the complete program.
All this week there will be tons of firecrackers going off as part of the tradition. For small children we recommend the “bombetas” which are small firecrackers to launch on the ground so they feel a part of the celebration.
What do you eat on Sant Joan?
Festivity also means culinary tradition and for the occasion we have the Coca de Saint-Joan! There are several versions: confit with marzipan, cream with decorated with pine nuts, lard and candied fruit. This is the traditional meal of the Night of Saint John, accompanied by cava (the Catalan “champagne”)
Coca de Sant Joan has an oval shape, which is a reminiscence of sun worship. According to chef Ignasi Domènech, it must be twice as long as it is wide.
Normally Catalans buy this goodie in the bakery or supermarket, but heres the recipe so you can make it at home!
Ingredients: 250 g of flour, 200 g of candied fruits (melon, orange, cherries, etc.), 75 g of milk, 55 g of soft butter, 55 g of sugar, 25g of pine nuts, 20 g of yeast pressed, 2 eggs, 1 cup of anise, grated lemon rind, salt, sugar, oil or butter.
Mix the yeast with slightly warm milk then add 3 tablespoons of flour
Work to make the dough smooth then let stand until it has doubled the volume
Next, make a volcano shape with the flour and in the center put the butter, eggs, sugar, salt, lemon zest and anise
Work the dough with your hands and continue to work with the flour until obtaining a fine and compact mass
Spread oil or butter on a greased baking sheet. Note: (The dough must have a thickness of about 1 cm and an oval shape.)
Coat the dough with egg and place the candied fruit cut in pieces on top
Finally, spread the pine nuts on top and sprinkle on the sugar
Bake at 180˚C for about 20 minutes.
For the party to be successful, be careful by keeping children away from bonfires and firecrackers. Enjoy this popular and intergenerational Catalan feast!
Good Sant Joan (Saint John) everyone!
-The Barcelona Wink Team