755 Saint John's Eve - The shortest night of the year

The shortest day of the year

The shortest day of the year

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Saint John’s Eve, is the eve of celebration before the Feast Day of St John the Baptist. The Feast coincides with the June solstice also referred to as Midsummer. It also marks the longest day of the year and is therefore followed by the shortest night. And it is, without a doubt, a night of celebration and happiness. People welcome summer and celebrate the night as a sign of rebirth and renewed life.

Barcelona's Beach on Saint John's Eve
Barcelona’s Beach on Saint John’s Eve


The origins of this Feast are ancient and also mysterious. There are some who believe it goes back to the Neolithic Age when pagan celebrations were held to give strenght to the sun god and thank him for the year’s harvest.


In Spain, ancient pre-Christian traditions related to fire festivities are still among the most popular. Many different cities and towns have their own unique traditions associated with the festival. And they are beautiful and full of blessedness.

Fire is the most fundamental element associated with Sain John’s Eve. Bonfires are lit in the streets and on the sand of the beaches. They are done days in advance and it’s something Spaniards of all ages take part in. According to tradition anyone who jumps over a bonfire three times on this special night will be cleansed and purified, and their problems will be burned away.

Jumping a bonfire is a sign of purification
Jumping a bonfire is a sign of purification

Another tradition is preparing perfumed water combining the scent of seven plants. Bathing or washing on this water is another method of purification for the new summer season.


The traditional midsummer celebration in Spain takes place in the evening of June 23rd. On the Mediterranean coast, especially in Catalonia and Valencia, Sant Joan is celebrated with special food such the Coca de Sant Joan covered with pine nuts and candied fruit that can be accompanied with wine and cava.

La Coca de Sant Joan
La Coca de Sant Joan

Saint John’s Eve is a night that brings together communities and groups of families and friends to participate in the annual holiday. When the daylight begins to wane…