Mid­sum­mer mad­ness

Costa Levante News - - NEWS FEATURE -

By Jack Troughton THOU­SANDS crammed the streets of Jávea old town for the mag­i­cal ‘Nit de Focs’ – the night of fires - and the dra­matic cli­max of the an­nual mid­sum­mer San Juan fes­tiv­i­ties.

Along the beaches of the Costa Blanca, the first min­utes of June 24 mean peo­ple will jump through bon­fires in an an­cient cer­e­mony dat­ing back be­fore Chris­tian times and in­tended to clear away the bur­den of sin for an­other year, while tak­ing on board a help­ing of good for­tune.

And while the beaches of Jávea are full of friends and fam­i­lies en­joy­ing the tra­di­tion, the mid­sum­mer mad­ness in the his­toric ‘pue­blo’ is ac­tu­ally of­fi­cial and recog­nised as an event of spe­cial cul­tural and tourist in­ter­est.

There is a queue to cir­cum­nav­i­gate the an­cient town centre, leap­ing through six strate­gi­cally placed bon­fires. Groups of friends, fam­i­lies, pensioners, babes in arms, and bands - the drums falling silent for the jump into the flames - all pa­tiently queue for the lucky leap of faith.

Ev­ery­one wears a crown of green. The end point is marked by a re­ally big bon­fire - hoses damp down the walls of apart­ments - where the crown is hurled into the fire while mak­ing a wish.

The primeval drum beat gets even louder be­fore the street lights are turned off. The festival con­tin­ues with ‘cor­refocs’, or chas­ing fire­works.

It is time to be chased by ‘monks’ - think Klu Klux Klan fig­ures - car­ry­ing fire­works; there are even in­cen­di­aries go­ing off over­head and sparks fly ev­ery­where.

Young­sters - wear­ing a typ­i­cal uni­form of hooded sweat­shirt, base­ball cap, and face­mask, even gloves - have made sure they have been thor­oughly soaked by the fire­men and dance with dan­ger.

The pro­fes­sion­als carry fire­works, Catherine Wheels, sev­eral ‘toro de fuego’ - metal frames with a bull’s head and more fire­works. It is ex­cit­ing, a lit­tle dis­turb­ing and just a tad odd.

At around 02.30, ev­ery­one gath­ers in the Plaza de la Con­sti­tu­ción. Drums pound, the cor­refocs pro­fes­sion­als lead mad danc­ing, and thou­sands of peo­ple jump for joy... all be­fore a live band and disco.

Morn­ing proper comes with a burst of more noise as fire­works an­nounce the ‘wake up’ call.

For first timers there is al­ways a feel­ing of al­most dis­be­lief to­gether with a few ques­tions about health and safety.

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