Twice a year bonfires are common all through Spanish villages: around the 17th of January, day of San Antón Abad (Saint Anthony) and on the 24th of June, day of San Juan (Saint John). As most festivities, they have pre-Christian origins, and have to do with the seasons, in this case with the beginning of winter and summer.
San Antón is celebrated all over central and southern Spain – you can find traditional bonfires in Castilla León (the Luminarias of San Bartolomé de Pinares, Ávila), Andalusia (the Lumbres of Jaén and its province, the chiscos of the Alpujarra in Granada or the hundreds of bonfires in Trigueros, Huelva), Murcia, Castilla La Mancha, Aragón (in the province of Zaragoza).
The fires are meant to purify men, animals and the harvest, so often some bonfire-jumping is involved, usually only by humans, although in San Bartolomé de Pinares riders cross the fires with their horses, which are specifically trained and prepared for this.
In the villages of Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands, bonfires burn all through the night of the 16th. It’s traditional to eat Espinagada, a pie filled with spinach (hence the name, from espinaca) and eel or pork. Also, the first sobrasadas are opened and eaten with toasted bread.
Pork meat is eaten grilled on the hot coals, but other dishes are traditional: rosetas (popcorn!) and stewed pumpkin in Jaén, Olla de San Antón (a hearty stew of lima beans, pork of all kinds and potatoes) in Granada, while in Madrid sweet panecillos (buns) are found in pastry shops.
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