The Bonfires of St. John, a Midsummer tradition particularly popular in Catalonia, dates back to pre-Christian summer solstice celebrations but has become associated with the birth date of St. John, June 24. Here in Northern Catalonia, we add the association with the Canigou flame, a symbol of Catalan identity, by simulating the bringing of fire down from the mountains.
There was a time when the children began in the nearby Corbieres hills and ran down to the village of Maury carrying torches through the forests and vineyards, but contemporary safety standards and a persistent drought have limited the procession to the streets of the village.
Still, there’s not much more fun to be had in this town than for children and firefighters to run through the streets carrying torches that are then used to ignite a bonfire of grenache vines in the kiosque square.
The mayor grills sausages, the council serves wine, the kids get to run off all that energy and the parents get a good night’s sleep.
©2017 Ron Scherl