Friday, 23 June 2017

San Juan - the day health and safety inspectors cry themselves to sleep

One of the best things about Spain is the way they've maintained so many traditions and the huge quantities of festivities there are. You could spend a year hopping from one town to another chasing fiestas if you wanted to. Perhaps I should do that and write a book about it - except I'm a bit of a lightweight and I can't cope with two late nights in a row.

By late, I mean reaaaaally late. You've got to calculate the time as if it were the time plus three hours. So if you get home at 3am, that's really only like getting home at midnight in Spain.

Today is San Juan, which means tonight we'll be celebrating La Nit de Foc - the night of fire. Tonight is the night safe and healthy officers give each other a look as if to say 'why do we even bother?

In Palma, it will start in front of the cathedral with ominous drum beats that will set your pulse racing. Then devils will appear wielding tridents with spinning fireworks at the end of them. Sparks will fly, smoke will fill your nostril, the bang of firecrackers will ripple through your body and you will retreat screaming. You will then probably creep forward again, because it's so mesmerising you won't be able to stay away.

After an hour of all hell breaking loose, the devils will depart... to rejoin their families probably for a barbeque and a beer. Everyone will head down to the beaches and prance around flaming bonfires. There will be no supervision and no massive barriers in front of the fires like there is in public displays for Guy Fawkes in the UK.

There are rituals - like scribbling your deepest wish on a piece of paper and throwing it into the fire so that it comes true. Or jumping over it three times. In reality, the most common ritual is drinking too much, swimming in the dark and making a mess of Mallorca's beaches. I'm intending to go equipped with black bags and be a conscientious San Juan party goer!

So there you have it. If you happen to be in Mallorca tonight - or Spain in general: Do not be afraid. It is not the apocalypse - it's only San Juan. 

I'm seriously thinking about including some mad fiestas in my next novel... 

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