June 23rd in all Conflent villages
The Fête de la St Jean, celebration of the summer solstice and of friendship is a recent Catalan tradition. Each village sends its delegation to the Canigó’s summit, on the Sunday preceding the Saint Jean. The group takes a bundle of sticks up to the peak, in the name of its village and lays it at the bottom of the Canigo’s cross.
The flame which was lit in 1964 at the Castillet, in Perpignan by Joseph Deloncle and Jean Iglésis of the Cercle de Jeunes, thanks to a magnifying glass that concentrated rays of sun on olive tree branches and on bay, picked in the garden of Jacint Verdaguer set alight the Canigó’s stake on the 22nd of June at midnignt. Since then, the flame has been keep at the Castillet and taken up to the summit of Canigó to be regenerated.
It is then handed down to all the villages of Catalogne where its arrival is celebrated.
This celebration is accompanied by the St Jean bouquet that is composed of four specific herbs picked on the morning of the 23rd. Tradition requires walnut, St John’s wort, helichrysum and stonecrop leaves. These bunches are sometimes still hung on house doors to attract luck and happiness. Many Catalans still make these bouquets, even if the real “recipe” has been somewhat forgotten.