Sant Joan


The biggest festival in Cataluña is Sant Joan (St. John), which takes place every year on 23rd and 24th June. This is also a celebration of the summer solstice (albeit two days late), Sant Joan having been born (according to the church calendar) six months before Jesus on June 24th.

església parroquial

The larger part of the celebrations, take place here on the evening of 23rd June (and in many other European countries), so on that morning, I went to see what was going on around the older part of town. In the Església Parroquial (of Santa Maria i Sant Nicolau), they’d made a beautiful carpet of flowers and petals down the main aisle (top picture).

coca de sant joan

I went to buy bread in my favourite bakery (Canapé) on C/ de l’Església, where they were selling Coca de Sant Joan. Coca is a flat bread (not unlike pizza) which can be sweet or savoury. These are particular to Catalan speaking regions, including the Balearics and Valencia. The word coca comes from Dutch and is related to the words kuchen (German) and cake (English). In this case, Coca de Sant Joan is sweet and generally eaten on the eve of Sant Joan with a glass of dessert wine or cava.


In Calella, the Sant Joan celebrations start when the Flama del Canigó (flame of Canigó) is brought down from the mountains, to light a bonfire on the Passeig de Manuel Puigvert (at 21.30), next to the sea.


People sit down to a communal sopar (supper) in the middle of Passeig de Manuel Puigvert, from about 22.00, bringing their own food and drink,


or buying refreshments at the bar. The most common food being coca and botifarra (a typical Catalan sausage, which dates back to the Romans).


Throughout the night there’s a constant barrage of fireworks – you can see how smokey it is (above) during a lull in the explosions.

roman candle

Grown ups and children (of all ages) set off Roman Candles, petardos (bangers) and rockets.

focs artificials

The fiesta goes on until dawn, with people camping on the beaches, eating, drinking and setting off their focs artificial. It’s like a full on artillery battery!
The day of Sant Joan is somewhat quieter.

About Mad Dog
This entry was posted in Barcelona, Calella, Drink, Eating Out, Food, Meat, Spanish and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Sant Joan

  1. Eha says:

    *big smile* Thank you for this very informative writing and for the add-ons about my birth country of Estonia and its mid-summer festival at such length ! I always believed that the festivities were largely limited to Northern European countries and am glad to have reason to read up on the facts. As you know Ron Smith from ‘lostinapor’ posted a thorough description of ‘Midsomar’ in Sweden on his latest blog . . . Estonia’s ‘carrying on’ is very similar 🙂 ! And a lot of babies do seem to get born exactly nine months later !! AS far as Estonia is concerned methinks all of the festivities are confined to 24 June . . . yes, it is called St John’s Day in spite of us all knowing Jesus Christ most certainly was not born at Yuletide: that was Emperor Constantine’s imaginative mind hundreds of years later . . . after decades of tertiary studies in the field the closest we can come is mid-March 7 BC, Meanwhile celebrating the longest day od the year, to me, still has pagan connotations . . .

  2. Karen says:

    All day celebrations and into the night…sounds like a great time. I especially like how everyone brings food and eats together.

  3. Fabulous! Love celebrations like these. Sorry I’m late…moved house yesterday 😁

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.