The Midsummer Night celebrations are famous in Sweden, but the longest day is also celebrated in Catalonia. Not on June 21, but on the evening of June 23, the evening before Dia del Sant Joan.
It is one of the most important holidays for the Catalans and is celebrated in cities, villages and especially on the beach. The sun is seen as the symbol of fertility and prosperity. This must be given extra strength and this is done by fires and fireworks. That is why this evening is also called Nit del Foc, night of the fire.
Wood is collected for the fires and after the evening meal, la cena, the fire is lit and fireworks set off. During the day you can occasionally hear fireworks and this reminded me a bit of New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands. Just less intense.
Coca de Sant Joan
This evening the Catalans go to one of the restaurants, have a picnic on the beach or celebrate the party at home. Traditionally, a Coca de Sant Joan is eaten as a dessert. Already weeks before you see big piles in supermarktets and on June 23 many people waiting outside the (pastry) bakeries. There are several varieties and coca is usually made from brioche dough; traditionally with custard or marzipan, but all kinds of fillings are possible. Guests often bring a coca and I had a coca with apple and chocolate in addition to the traditional one with custard. And all equally delicious… the traditional one was gone before I could take a picture.
The next day, June 24, Dia del Sant Joan, is a holiday and most shops and restaurants are closed.