The Sant Joan festival has been called by many names, but in Catalonia and Barcelona, it is most often referred to as the "Nit de Sant Joan," or Saint John's Night or Saint John's Eve. The celebration is also called "La revetlla de Sant Joan" in Catalan or in Spanish "Verbenas de Sant Joan." Just for short, "Nit de Foc," or the night of fire is often used to refer to the all-night festivities that are hallmark milestone, signifying the beginning of summer rather than the middle. As Sant Joan is celebrated 23rd June, it almost coincides with the Summer Solstice that is normally observed on the 20th or 21st June.
As noted in the history books, it is likely that the origins of the festival are from pagan decent. Similarly, the importance of fire, witches, and herbal remedies in the traditional celebrations suggest that the night of Sant Joan is a pre-Christian festival that has been requisitioned by the church to correspond with the birth of Saint John.
One of the biggest, noisiest, and wildest parties of the year, Sant Joan is known for bonfires on the beach, fireworks, traditional coca cakes and the quintessential glass or two of cava. With all the festivities going on throughout the city, don’t plan to get any rest. The celebrations typically last until morning, leaving those that adore their sleep, in want of a little quality in bed.
A traditionally Catalan holiday, the night of Sant Joan, is embraced by Barcelonans. Join the estimated 70,000 people on the beach or pop up a barbeque or picnic in the park or on some rooftop terrace.
While there are no public displays of fireworks in the city, don’t fret. Family, friends, and colleagues will supply the inventory of fireworks, firecrackers, smoke bombs, and sparklers for a monumental display that will keep the dogs howling until the early morning hours.
A popular saying in Catalan, paying homage to the day, and more importantly the night, is "Fred per Nadal I calor per Sant Joan, salut per tot l’any." This translates into well wishes, "Cold for Christmas, warmth for Sant Joan, health for the whole year!" The following day, June 24th is observed as a public holiday.
Studying abroad offers students these special opportunities, such as the night of Sant Joan, to experience the culture like a local, to embrace the history of the region, and connect with its people. Taking the opportunity to study abroad is a life changing experience that will not only impact students’ professional employment prospects but will enrich their personal lives forever, leaving a lasting memory in their hearts and minds.