All hell breaks loose on Mallorca on the 23rd of June to celebrate the island’s devotion to Saint John the Baptist, locally known as Sant Joan whose saint’s day is 24th June. No fiesta in Mallorca quite compares with the pyrotechnics of Nit de Foc ‘Night of Fire ‘. But be warned – you need to cover your ears !
The celebrations origins are understood to be a Christian adoption of the pagan ritual welcoming the arrival of the summer solstice.
Traditionally the eve of Sant Joan was celebrated across Catalonia and other parts of Europe by lighting large bonfires which would be kept going throughout the night to give light and warmth to the celebration.
Each town across the island celebrates with fireworks, bonfires, demon displays such as correfoc (a fire run) and castellers (human pyramids) but it is in Palma that the biggest celebrations take place.
Once the sun sets, the demons come out onto the streets with their fire and light show dancing to the beat of drums and flutes. ‘Demons’ circulate amongst the crowd with burning torches swinging in the air as they make their way to set the bonfires alight.
The beach is the place to be as friends and families gather to set up bonfires and tuck in to picnics and its the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, it’s often a long night !
It’s traditional to eat ‘Coca de Sant Joan’, a speciality cake made of sweet pastry and candied fruits, marzipan or cream. Other variations of the coca include savoury versions with bacon and pine nuts or even vegetables and tuna.
Find some ear plugs an old clothes and step back a thousand years and join in this primeval and totally absorbing spectacle !
For more information see the Mallorca Tourist Website.
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