NIGHT OF FIRE IN GORLIZ

In Gorliz, St. John’s night is a night where people in the village gather in a relaxed atmosphere and after enjoying some performance they drink chocolate and light the so called St. John’s bonfires. Depending on the type of bonfires, these ones are jumped to make an appeal asking for good luck or simply enjoy the music watching the fire burn.

There is a long tradition of celebrating Saint John’s night in Biscay but… What is the origin of this celebrated festivity at state level?


Origin and history of Saint John’s Night

This festivity is now celebrated throughout the peninsula and in a large number of countries in the northern hemisphere. It has its origin in a pagan festival where bonfires were made to encourage the Sun God, because from that night on, the shortest of all the year, the following ones would be shorter than in the previous seasons.

With the advent and generalization of Christianity, pagan customs were losing ground as the Christians imposed themselves until paganism became symbolic representation. Depending on the time, these customs have also been forbidden.

One of the festivities that were changed or reinterpreted was what we know today as Saint John’s night. According to this version of the Bible, on the night of June 23rd, Saint John the Baptist was born and his father, Zechariah, decided to celebrate it by lighting a bonfire to warn everyone of the birth of his son.

¿Is it the longest night of the year or the shortest day of the year depending on the hemisphere you’re in?

No. This topic is linked to the summer solstice that takes place on June 21st, but the adaptation of the date to the Christian calendar has made that the pagan holiday of 21st is moved to 23rd or 24th, depending on the region.

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