It looked, felt and sounded like the city was under siege and it lasted a very long time. The smoke and fireworks started from ten p.m. on Sunday night and were still going when I got home at two a.m. this morning.
With a long weekend in Barcelona, the celebrations of the feast of Sant Joan are well and truly underway. Today (24 June) is an important day for the Catalan residents and marks the official start of summer in the northern hemisphere. Midnight last night marked the longest day (shortest night) of the year and the time at which the sun reaches its highest point before beginning to drop. In other parts of the world, it is known as summer solstice. The sun is seen as a symbol of fertility and wealth and is given strength by all the fireworks lit around the city.
And they are everywhere. Lit freely in the streets, on the beaches, in the plaza - by anyone, anywhere and they can be alarmingly close and a bit scary when one goes off as you walk past it. The atmosphere is very loud and vibrant but also highly unregulated (the fun police take a night off) and I was really surprised to see small children lighting crackers, then taking just a few steps back while it shot into the air (or sideways - it’s always a bit of a gamble).
With ambulance and fire engine sirens going off regularly in the background, I found myself wondering how many fingers and eyes have been lost over the years in the name of fun. I’m pretty sure there is a reason they are banned in so many other countries.
As well as being an important family celebration for locals, the long weekend also draws huge party crowds of Europeans - many with their ‘drinking team T-shirts‘ on.
Before the evening celebrations, it was great to have seen some of the family and community celebrations with their gigantes (giants) lined up for photos. An unexpected storm cleared the early beach crowds but did little to dampen the enthusiasm or numbers of people later in the night.
With a seven a.m. start for me yesterday, it really did feel like the longest day.