Monday, June 23, 2008
The festival of San Juan is associated with midsummer and fire. In Alicante neighbourhood communities band together to employ craftspeople to build sculptures made from papier maché and other flamable materials which are set on fire to on the night of the 23/24 June.
Someone told me they will be burning about 18 million euros worth of sculptures this year. The fiesta starts a few days before.
John Moore and I went to Alicante to get a beer and to see what they were up to. Apart from hordes of people heading every which way we saw a parade as part of the "floral offering". The end of the procession for each person involves walking in one end of the Cathedral and out of the other and, as they do so, they hand over their flowers to a team of blokes who place them on a frame. The frame has a sort of pyramidal shape which,I think, ends up as a representation of the Virgin Mary - the colour of the flowers that each person carries is carefully orchestrated to provide the necessary colours for the final design.
Maggie phoned to say that her San Juan had been a bit different. As she was strolling home she realised that the local fire station was having an open day - the patron saint of firefighters, logically enough, is San Juan. She was offered the opportunity to slide down the pole but she politely declined!
Mind you, as I remember it, for the festival of San Juan in Santa Pola unmarried virgins have to wade into the sea and successfully leap nine simultaneous waves to capture a husband who will help them make a baby. I understand there are fewer and fewer participants each year.