San Juan: The morning after the night before

San Juan: The morning after the night before
Revellers dance around a bonfire to celebrate the summer solstice. Archive photo: AFP
The clean-up operation was underway after a night in which hundreds of thousands of people across Spain celebrated the summer solstice with a festival of fire.

Every region of Spain has local traditions when it comes to celebrating on the eve of the feast of St John (San Juan) usually incorporating the elements of fire and water.

In coastal areas, townsfolk head to the beach for a night of revelry around huge bonfires, with dancing, drinking and feasting often culminating a midnight dip in the ocean.



In some places elaborate efigies are thrown into the flames to represent Judas Escariot. In other traditions people leap through the flames in a bid to cleanse sins and store up the sun’s energy for the year ahead.

Menorca has the strange tradition of horses brought among the crowds to dance and prance while onlookers attempt to touch the equine belly, a feat that ensures good luck for the year.

A horse rears in a crowd during the traditional San Juan (Saint John) festival in the town of Ciutadella, on the Balearic Island of Menorca on the eve of Saint John's day on June 23th 2015 Photo: Jaime Reina / AFP

In Catalonia, where the Sant Joan parties are particularly popular and the day of June 24th is a public holiday, authorities launched an early morning clean up operation to rid the beaches of overindulgent partygoers and the detritus they left behind.

Dozens of teams from Barcelona’s different police forces hit the beach at dawn to evict revelers from a 5km stretch of beach in the Catalan capital.



Some 500 extra rubbish bins and 84 additional waste containers had been placed along the beach to collect litter and cleaning teams swooped down on the beach in order to ensure it was ready to welcome sunbathers later in the day.

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