Written by Shirley Roberts 13th June 2022
June is a wonderful month in Mallorca. The arrival of summer and beach days is celebration enough for some. For others it builds up to the celebration of Sant Joan on the eve of 24th June. This is said to be a Christian adoption of the pagan ritual welcoming the arrival of the summer solstice.
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. Fire and water are essential in the celebration and set the scene for what we find in the Port of Soller on that night. Catalonia still has a Bank Holiday on 24th June and some people in the Balearics take an annual holiday day off to celebrate.
Those new to the celebration need to know a few facts. The gatherings happen on the eve of St Joan i.e Thursday 23rd June 2022. Celebrations happen at the water’s edge by the sea. Some might use their swimming pools for a gathering but most are by the sea. White is the dress code as everyone wears white as the colour of purification.
The beach fills with groups making their space on the beach. Picnics and tables laden with food arrive and candles are lit all around the groups. Fires are not permitted on beaches but the occasional small bonfire has been seen on this special night. The steady procession of people arriving means that everyone is in place by midnight. The purification swims or just the toes in the water happen then. The setting of intentions on the water means that little boats of fire head out to sea to be extinguished by the water. Setting your intentions after purification is the ambition and starts the ‘new you’ for the summer solstice.
The Town Hall will often provide bonfires and music as the evening wears on but essentially this is a gentle celebration. Families and friends meeting on beaches and celebrating life is the key theme. The midnight swims of purification and the setting of intentions for another year brings its own poignancy.
Sollerics can make a party out of a paper bag and this is indeed what we do on this night. The paper bag, set on fire is the intention which floats for a second at midnight.
The key to this night is to organise in advance a group of friends and set a meeting place on the beach. Decide on the food you will all bring to the picnic. Don’t leave the arrangements to the last minute as it can become the party which everyone is invited to except you. Make a plan to be with others on this most special night of the year…
Have a great celebration of Sant Joan…