Friday, June 24, 2011

Revetlla de Sant Joan Bonfires

It is Barcelona's noisiest and most chaotic night celebration of the year. Yet, it is also one of the most family, neighborhood, and block party oriented funnest nights. Revetlla or night celebration is truly a long nit (night) to keep a person awake as bonfires and fireworks illuminate streets in Catalunya. St. John’s Eve, a.k.a. John the Baptist, is a Christianized celebration of a pagan summer solstice festival dating back centuries. As with all equinox and solstice festivals, the Roman Catholic Church substituted pagan celebrations  with Christianized observances. As would be the case, Sant Joan’s birth is celebrated coincidently  two days after the summer solstice.

The celebration begins on June 23rd and continues all night long until sunrise of June 24th. Older people and families with young children find this celebration a headache because they or their babies can't sleep due to the raucous fireworks and boisterous people drinking and celebrating on th streets.

Fogueras (bonfires) were normally built in the middle of the plazas of small towns and villages and people would come to purify themselves by jumping over the fiery embers. The fire's symbolic meaning is to cleanse, purify and renew life, as it was believed during pagan celebrations.

Barcelona is no longer a village, but a cosmopolitan city that still hosts the pagan tradition mixed with the Christian celebration in grand scale, especially at the beach. It is scandalous for any North American foreinger to see bonfires stacked smack in the middle of a traffic intersection and see it lit on fire. 

It’s interesting and odd to watch neighborhood people drag out old and unwanted furniture and pile it eight feet high for a bonfire. Petards, foc artificials, and lots of menjar will occur all night long with smoke filled streets.


Men responsible for building the forguera.

If it's wood, throw it into the foguera!
View from my mother-in-law's balcony where wood objects are piled on the left corner to be carried to the foguera.

Mannequin with no head acting as the ninot  or doll on top of the bonfire...that leather sofa is not wood...
Men waiting for twilight around the foguera.
Finally set on fire! See the people holding hands in the background. Can you picture them dancing and reveling around the fire thousands of years ago?
These bonfires in all honesty are really dangerous. Look how close this taxi drives by the fire. 
Notice that there is nothing to prevent anyone from walking straight into the bonfire? This would never happen in the U.S. or Canada.

Bonfire dying out. Too wide for me to want to jump over it for purifying purposes.

Love, love, love, the coques prepared here. Simply the best!

Pastisseria Abril, Creu Coberta 17, Barcelona
My all time favorite dessert, la coca de Sant Joan. This flat bread is by far the most tender I have ever had, it will hold up until the next day just as tova.

It has a cream filling in the center with pine nuts and candied cherries on top. This is the dessert to eat on Sant Joan.