Noche de San Juan, Calpe, Alicante, Spain 2011

Google  Maps: Calpe, Alicante, Spain

San Juan’s night is full of bonfires, fireworks, music, dancing, sardines and bread. It’s the welcome to summer, and its celebration takes place during the shortest night of the year.

Many towns, cities or villages celebrate this first Summer Fiesta. All the celebrations share some things in common, yet each also has its peculiarity.

In cities and towns, particularly those close to the sea, the celebration is very important. Lalín, in Galicia, celebrates O Corpiño, during which people touch an image to botar fora o meigallo, to take out bad things. In Alicante’s Fogueres de Sant Joan, two hundreds bonfires burn all over the city during the night. In Palamós and Roses (Girona), fireworks and bonfires are made on the beach, while in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the people build bonfires of waste products, and after the burn, bathe in the sea, which they have filled with fruits and flowers.

Bonfires, fire and water are the protagonists of the night. Men and women, young people and children, all dedicate their days and afternoons to the preparation of bonfires. According to tradition, if people jump three times over a bonfire on San Juan’s night, they will be cleansed and purified, and their problems burned away.

Another tradition, especially for women, requires the women of the house to prepare perfumed water combining the scents of seven plants – among them rosemary, roses and laurel – and to bathe or wash their faces in the water, again to purify themselves for the new season.

Particular to our immediate area the summer fiesta requires wearing a crown of elderflower (I think),which is worn until midnite when the whole mass of people on the beach paddle in the sea and jump over twelve waves symbolizing the 12 months of the year, and then throwing the crown in the sea. Sophie our  seven year old was mortified at losing her crown and only did so after much tears.

Our crowd from Jalon with our crowns got a great reception from the visitors there drivers honking their horns and general cheering and applause,what better time to dress up ridicously than the Summer Soltice?

Fires are not allowed on Calpe beaches for practical reasons, (tourists dislike sunbathing between burnt out fires) but there is a very big Foguera on the promenade. In older times people built the fire from unwanted furniture but this year for some reason all we got was a rather sorry looking bunch of hastily felled pine trees cut up and rather green looking, needless to say they refused to ignite, so in typically Spanish style of doing things, some bright spark(no pun intended), decided to throw some inflammable liquid on it, resulting in the waiting firemen having to dowse the flames to control the sparks from igniting nearby buildings.

A stunning firework display with fireworks parachuting into the sea, topping everything off, made for a great night for all.

I could´nt bring my Tripod as we had so many iceboxes and gear to carry, so I had to rest the camera on my knee while holding the camera as still as i could and select a ludicrously high ISO.

Lens: Canon EF-S 18-200mm

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