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Tuesday, June 17, 2008 (read 1047 times)
Traditional Midsummer Bonfires in Alicante, Spainby Stacey
The principal root of this celebration revolves around an ancient pagan tradition of celebrating the summer solstice. On this day, light is prevented from disappearing in what is considered to be the longest day of the year, therefore fire is used to substitute the sun as a way to keep the light from dying out.
Las Hogueras de San Juan (St. John's Bonfires) is celebrated every year throughout the world and all over Spain with bonfires. In Spain, it goes on this year from June 20th -24th. It is a particularly special event in San Juan de Alicante, where a smaller version of Valencia's Fallas takes place. There are firework competitions, medieval markets, marching bands, dancing competitions, flower offerings, street partying and much more.
The old way people celebrated this event and welcomed summer was by piling up useless materials and setting it on fire, as a way of getting rid of the old (winter) and welcoming the new (summer). After the founding of Christianity, the celebration incorporated the feast of St. John as the main reason to celebrate and to overshadow its pagan origins without replacing it. Nowadays, the focal point is a street procession, and the stars have been replaced by 100 intricatedly built wood and paper-mâchéd satirical sculptures. These gigantic sculptures sit atop the floats that are placed around all over the city center in what is knows as la plantá. On the last day, all floats and monuments are burnt to cinders during the intense midnight cremá as the grand finale after the palmera (fireworks display). People bathe in the sea to clean and purify themselves for good luck and jump over small bonfires to "burn their worries away".In 2008 the event celebrates its 80th anniversary, so expect an extra-special program of events for this year's commemoration. We are positive that if you go, you will enjoy everything about the festival, especially the artistic, whimsical statues that are impressive during the day, but appear even more impressive and magical at night. It is an event well worth witnessing as well as the city makes for the perfect place to practice your Spanish!
Do something fun this summer! Attend las Hogueras while learning Spanish with don Quijote in Alicante.
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