Saint John’s Eve

Saint John’s Eve

Have you ever heard of “San Juan” or Saint John’s Eve? It is a festival of pagan origin that is celebrated on June 23: it is the eve of the day of San Juan Bautista, in which are often lit bonfires or fires. The origin of this custom is associated with celebrations celebrating the arrival of the summer solstice, June 21 in the northern hemisphere, whose main ritual is to light a bonfire. The purpose of this rite was to “give more strength to the sun”, which from those days was becoming “weak” – the days are getting shorter until the winter solstice. Symbolically, the fire also has a “purifying” function in the people who contemplated it. It is not only celebrated in Spain but also in many parts of Europe, such as Portugal (Jonsok), Denmark (Sankthans), Sweden (Midsommar), Finland (Juhannus), Estonia (Jaanipäev) and Kingdom United Kingdom (Midsummer). Hostal fontanella offers you the best rooms to enjoy this holiday in one of the best cities in the world: Barcelona.

The Christian feast of Saint John is celebrated on June 24, six months before the eve of Jesus’ birth, which is December 24. These six months are the difference that the Gospels indicate between the two births. However, three days apart from both dates with both solstices makes it unreasonable to assign this feast to the solstice, and scholars are inclined to the fact that December 25, the birth of Jesus, is most reasonably associated with the celebration Jewish Hanukkah or dedication of the Temple (Jesus was the new Temple for Christians). According to this reasoning, the feast of St. John would have nothing to do with the pagan celebrations of the summer solstice. A difference of 3 days is too much scope for astronomical knowledge of any time we consider. In Latin America, in northeastern Argentina, Brazil (has Festas Juninas), Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, the night of San Juan is also related to ancient traditions and Spanish legends like the Legend Of the Encantada.

In many places there is no doubt that the present celebrations have a direct connection with the celebrations of antiquity linked to the summer solstice, influenced by pre-Christian rites or simply linked to the cycles of nature. However, in other places (eg Spain and Portugal) the existence of a link between the summer solstice celebrations (in the northern hemisphere) that takes place on 20-21 June and the celebrations of St. John’s Day ( June 24) vary according to dates, discontinuity in the celebration, traditions and customs, etc. In spite of this, there are common elements, such as the making of bonfires in the streets and squares of towns where family and friends meet.

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