Sant Joan: A Traditional Holiday
This week will be about the famous holiday Saint John (Sant Joan) here in Barcelona,
Sant Joan is a traditional holiday on June 24th every year. This celebration is seen across most of Europe, each region celebrating slightly differently. Here in Catalunya, the celebration of this holiday takes place throughout the night of the 23rd. It is celebrated on the eve because it is the summer solstice, which means it is the shortest night of the year and therefore more time for partying. Celebration rituals include giant bonfires on the beach where people can throw in items such as old furniture, to make the blaze even higher. This holiday also marks the end of the school year so, kids from all around throw their papers from the past year into the fire. Smaller children celebrate with many sparklers and firecrackers (bombetes). Firework displays are also very common and sometimes you can see dancers around a bonfire or drummers in the streets.
Maria told a story about how she celebrated the holiday when she was young. There was a competition between the girls and boys around her neighborhood so, she would go around to the neighbors asking for old furniture and garbage to light on fire. Whoever made the biggest fire, won the competition. She said these fires would get so high they would reach 6 meters (hopefully she won the competition)! She states how she celebrated these fires on the beach, but they are also held all over the province. This upcoming week she will be making Coca de Sant Joan for the guests of the hotel to enjoy. Below is the recipe so you can make it on your own!
750 grams – Bread Flour
110 grams – Sugar
110 grams – anise
65 grams – pressed yeast
12 grams – salt
Zest of ½ a lemon
3 grams – anise powder
80 grams – water
Put half the butter and spices (anise and lemon zest) will the rest of the ingredients in an electric mixer with the hook. Knead the dough for 20 minutes until all the ingredients are combined and an elastic mass is obtained. Add the remaining butter and spices then mix until combined. Make this dough into a ball and let rise until double in size. Then, cut the dough into desired weight (250g), make into portioned balls, and set aside to rise again. After the portioned dough has been cut, stretch the dough to make into shape of a long oval. Add whichever fruits and nuts you desire to the dough, cover with a damp cloth to rise again. Bake at 210C.