A magical and immemorial night, that of San Juan, which in this town adds a multitude of followers, each year more. And it is that few occasions we have the calendar of a year in which the convention gives free rein to the less conventional rite. The rite of the summer solstice is an eternal night of humanity to which Christianity has placed a holy surname: San Juan.
Ribadesella boasts of lighting the biggest bonfire in the night of San Juan, the one that accumulates more wood, the one that takes longer to extinguish and the one that, consequently, the more heated.
However in Ribadesella, San Juan is many things at once. Is an artificial island on the Sella, a huge table of earth and grass with tablecloths, cider, bagpipes and an immense bonfire that lights up punctually at night 12 and brings together more than 3.000 people of the entire eastern region. Everything creates the best excuse for an expected and socially assumed transition, which happens with the arrival of good weather. The celebration is thus an associative act that precedes a seemingly atmospheric rite of passage, and a large majority of families and gangs willingly surrender the friendly weapons that make the neighborhood possible: conversation, paellas, grilled meats, sophisticated menus in other cases, a little coffee at the end, a few drops of liquor, or better, a culin and a few more afterwards.
But San Juan is also a "prau misteriosu", a continent of bodies and aromas that predisposes mocking and profane spirit of Asturias. To dance around the bonfire, to drink cider, to dine profusely and to accompany the music of the origins is - equally in the order that these circumstances are given - another associative act but this time linked to the survival of the souls of nature. Man is only one part more, without hegemonies, as it was under animism. So in the berbena that happens after the burning, there remains in the air a certain ancestral touch that makes it distinctive and fleeting, like the night itself.
The shortest night of the year it goes even faster in Ribadesella thanks to this gastronomic and nocturnal jira in which improvised tents and beach bars to live with permissiveness and folixa. In this party the spirits whistle in the middle of the convention, the rite comes out and until well into the early hours it remains in the talks, the cider still runs and the essential magic that the flames bring can still be felt.
Only the decrease in temperatures as the bonfire dies, and the humidity of the Sella that always takes over the enclosure, makes the end of the night shorter, already at dawn, is for the more daring.Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com