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Saint John the Baptist Day in Spain

Saint John the Baptist Day (La revetlla de Sant Joan, Nit de Sant Joan) marks the birth of St John on June 24 each year. It is a public holiday in the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain.

Is Saint John the Baptist Day a Public Holiday?

Saint John the Baptist Day is a public holiday in Catalonia, where it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

Sculpture of head of John the Baptist
John the Baptist in the cathedral of Lleida, Spain.
©iStockphoto.com/elkor

What Do People Do?

Saint John the Baptist Day is celebrated in many villages and towns, including Barcelona. Many events take place on the evening of June 23. People in Catalonia celebrate Saint John the Baptist Day by:

  • Lighting bonfires and setting off fireworks on the evening of June 23. Fire runs or correfocs, where people dress as devils and carry pitchforks with fireworks attched to them. The costumed devils then set off the fireworks while dancing to the beats of drums.
  • Writing wishes or sins on a piece of paper and burning the paper.
  • Diving or bathing in dew, a stream, a river or the sea.
  • Watching the Sun rise on the morning of June 24.
  • Collecting and cooking with the herbs thyme, rosemary and verbena.

The drinks, cava – a sparkling wine produced in the Catalan region, and ratafia – an alcoholic liqueur or cordial made of wine, spirits and fresh fruit or herbs, are associated with Saint John the Baptist Eve and Day celebrations. Many people eat coca, flat loaves of bread with sweet or savory toppings, during this holiday.

Public Life

Saint John the Baptist Day is a public holiday in the autonomous community of Catalonia on June 24. While there are many events on the day before, public life is generally quiet on June 24. Most businesses, public offices, and stores are closed, though some bakers and food stores may stay open. Public transport services generally run on a reduced schedule, with little or no service in rural areas. Large events may cause some local disruption to traffic, particularly in town and village centers.

Regional or local authorities may move the public holiday to a different date, particularly if June 24 falls on a Sunday. If June 24 falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, many businesses and organizations are also closed on Monday, June 23, or Friday, June 29. Saint John the Baptist Day is not a public holiday in the rest of Spain on June 24.

Background

According to Christian belief, St John was a preacher and religious figure during Jesus' lifetime. He is thought to have baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. This may have laid the foundation for the baptism rituals in many Christian churches.

It is unknown when or where St John was born, but his nativity, or birth, is usually celebrated on June 24 in many churches. He was beheaded sometime around the year 30 CE. He is the patron saint of many villages, towns and regions, including Catalonia. The Saint John the Baptist Eve and Day celebrations have their origin in ancient Midsummer solstice celebrations.

Symbols

Images of St John the Baptist often depict him wearing a camel-skin robe and with a cross and a lamb. He is often shown baptizing people, particularly Jesus.

Saint John the Baptist Day Observances

Saint John the Baptist Day was only observed in the year 2016.

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010ThuJun 24Saint John the Baptist DayLocal holidayCatalonia
2011FriJun 24Saint John the Baptist DayLocal holidayCatalonia
2012SunJun 24Saint John the Baptist DayLocal holidayCatalonia
2013MonJun 24Saint John the Baptist DayLocal holidayCatalonia
2014TueJun 24Saint John the Baptist DayLocal holidayCatalonia
2015WedJun 24Saint John the Baptist DayLocal holidayCatalonia
2016FriJun 24Saint John the Baptist DayLocal holidayCatalonia, Galicia
2017SatJun 24Saint John the Baptist DayLocal holidayCatalonia
2018SunJun 24Saint John the Baptist DayLocal holidayCatalonia
2019MonJun 24Saint John the Baptist DayLocal holidayCatalonia
2020WedJun 24Saint John the Baptist DayLocal holidayCatalonia

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