On the eve of Midsummer Day, many towns in the Illes Balears celebrate its magical night. Fire is the main attraction, to dance around the bonfires to the beat of the music or to join the ritual of purification.
Several cities and towns in the Illes Balears celebrate the Nit de Sant Joan, including Palma, Calvià, Deià, Muro, Felanitx, Son Servera and Sant Joan, on Majorca; Formentera, the city of Eivissa, Santa Eulàlia des Riu and Sant Joan de Labritja.
Bonfires are organised at the squares on the night of 23rd June, and music and dancing are also to be found, filling everyone at the gathering with glee. The magical hour is midnight, when it is time to take part in the ritual of purification by means of fire. According to tradition, something old or a piece of paper upon which we have written down everything we would like to change must be thrown into the bonfire. While it is burning in the flames, we jump three times in a row.
On 24th June St John the Baptist’s Day is celebrated; he who was born in Judaea, was the nephew of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and who died beheaded in the year 27 at the request of Salome, the daughter of Herodias. The fact that it coincides with the summer solstice, with the longest day and the shortest night, has contributed to the magic acquired by this festival since time forgotten.
Horse Show in Ciutadella
But the event which most represents this festival doubtlessly takes place in Ciutadella, Minorca. The Sunday before St John’s Day, a man roams the streets barefoot dressed in leather, representing the saint and inviting everyone to participate. On the 24th, the enormous square in Ciutadella fills with people to see the caixers, pagesos, the casat, the fadrí, the senyor and the capellà, accompanied by cavallers and the fabioler, who play the shawm. The caracoles of horses mounted by expert horsemen is a worthwhile show.
The Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró (in Palma) celebrates St John’s Day with open house. Besides visiting the rooms, one can participate in activities and workshops. In Sant Joan (Majorca) the Festa Sol que Balla is organised, with displays of agricultural machinery, farm produce, plants and an exhibition of tondre amb estisores (sheepshearing).
More information: www.illesbalears.es
Category: Balearic Islands festivals