A locally cherished January tradition of street bonfires

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Jaén's Fires of San Antón

Great balls of fire!

Every January 17th, locals brave the evening chill on the feast day of San Antón for a street celebration with roots likely in the Middle Ages, involving huge lumbres (bonfires) in which cloth figures are burned to symbolically ward off evil in the new year. Here in Jaén it's a particularly cherished tradition, perhaps because it coincides with the end of the olive harvest, when the field workers can take a well earned rest and burn olive branches knocked off the trees during the harvest. These days there are usually around 30 fires, and in the more traditionally-minded neighbourhoods they're accompanied by traditional melenchones, songs that are satirical and sometimes even a bit naughty.

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