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Canals burns with the fire of Sant Antoni
Publishing date 12/01/2015
In the region of La Costera, the inhabitants of Canals took more than a month to build La Foguera (bonfire) that it will be burned with purifying fire on Sant Antoni’s eve. The Foguera of Canals, 25 m high and made of stacked firewood, pine boughs and topped with small orange tree is considered the biggest bonfire in the world. This purifying fire is not only in honour of the town’s Patron Saint, San Antonio Abad, who protected the village from a devastating earthquake in the 17th Century, but it is also a way to burn away the bad luck from the past year and make a wish for the new year. The feast coincides with the increase of day length, the days get longer. As the Spanish proverb says: "Por San Antonio, un paso de demonio" (Every year for San Antonio, the light makes a big step forward).
In Canals the bells ring joyfully and people come to the village to see the most eagerly awaited event of the festival: the burning of the bonfire to thank San Antonio Abad. It burns longer than 24 hours. The bonfire is 25 m high and it is considered the tallest bonfire in the world according the Guinness Book of Records
The inhabitants start to build this unique monument on 7th December - the eve of the Immaculate Conception –. They take the first trunks and branches to Plaza Mayor by horses bedecked. This ceremony is called Entrà de la primera soca. In the following days, the inhabitants add firewood in the bonfire. Then a pine trunk is used as a central axis and the construction is completed on 15th January. The end result is a huge bonfire with a crowned of orange tree branches in the middle of Plaza Mayor. The bonfire is burned on 16th January - Sant Antoni’s eve - after the Mass held in honour of the Saint, the Vítol’s singing leads to the lighting of the bonfire. The church square is crowed of people fascinated by the wonderful show, where the fire and the smoke are the protagonists.
The origins of the celebration dates back to the 17th Century, when the feast of San Antonio was celebrated as it is today –adapted to new times -. After four centuries, the Patron Saint festivities are celebrated each year from 16 to 18 January. On the 16th evening there is the famous burning of the huge bonfire (called cremà). On the 17th the feast day of the patron is celebrated and on the 18th there a traditional feast called Dels Parells. On this day the neighbours invite visitors to taste their typical food, sweets, small pastries and a multitudinous lunch with the typical Valencian dish Arroz al horno (oven-baked rice)