When Saint John comes, different areas of the Basque Autonomous Region celebrate the patron saint's day, neighbourhood festivities, rituals and obviously, numerous bonfires. In fact, groups of youngsters or adults erect one tree with no branches in several town squares ("the tree of St. John"). Subsequently, they set fire to the log. The night from 23rd to 24th of June is popularly known as the shortest of the year June 21st in the shortest anyway- and the arrival of summer solstice is celebrated.
In fact, Gipuzkoa holds important celebrations in towns such as Tolosa, Eibar, Arrasate-Mondragón, Hernani and Andoain, among many other areas. Tolosa arranges a broad programme with different activities, such as the celebrated parade where bordontzaris (blacksmiths), txistularis (Basque flute players), escopeteros (gunsmiths) and members of the music band march down the streets. On the other hand, Eibar offers concerts, dancing shows, sports competitions, musical ensembles, children's workshops, and so on.
As for Alava, we should highlight the traditional celebration held in Laguardia, where the figure of the "cachimorro" leads the parade ahead of a group of dancers. He stands out in the crowd since he wears colourful clothes and he walks towards the town square together with the mayor and the youngest councillor of town. There, the flag of Laguardia is lowered onto the street and later taken to the church of San Juan in order to be offered to the Virgin of El Pilar by means of tremolación de la bandera, which is a traditional ceremony. Likewise, Salvatierra-Agurain and Amurrio also hold St. John festivity.
Many are the towns in Bizkaia that celebrate St. John in a special way. Leioa -with massively attended bonfires before the Town Hall, the ritual meeting of witches known as Akelarre in the area of mobile bars, aka txosnas, and many concerts -, Muskiz -open-air dances, contests, concerts, family activities, and so on-, Getxo, Bermeo, Sopelana and Amallo neighbourhood, Markina-Xemein. As for the capital of Bizkaia, Bilbao's massively attended bonfire takes place in Artxanda.
Date: 06/23/2013 - 06/24/2013