ST. JOHN’S EVE IN HARÍA
Without a doubt St. John’s Eve or bonfire night in Haría is a special evening full of magic. It has been celebrated in the northern municipality of the island since the 16th century.
The villagers still today carry the patron saint on their shoulders from the San Juan hermitage to the church in the center of the town where the saint must remain for 8 days until being returned to the hermitage that bears his name.
People would come from all over the island and the locals used to offer food and accommodation during the entirety of the festival. Bonfires were made on the hilltops of the valley and the largest one in the center of the town which the youngsters would try to jump over in order to ward off evil spirits.
In 1964 the burning of a life-size rag doll called “Facundo” was introduced, and after the burning the embers were used for roasting ears of corn and sardines. A woman who lives in Punta Mujeres has been in charge of making “Facundo” for the past 40 years.
In 1994 a group of youngsters from the north of the island decided to do something different on St. John’s Eve. They wanted to give the festivities a touch of mystery and fun, and this is how the idea of the “Diabletes” came about, diabolically horrific looking demons with large horns. It was decided to form a group of youngsters from the municipality who proposed their idea and a group of 12 people was brought together. They designed and made their own costumes and masks, which are said to be unique since the molds and patterns are broken after their creation.
At first the “Diabletes” appearances in the festival were a total mystery since they had asked not to be announced in order to surprise the attending crowd. In the beginning the burning of “Facundo” always took place in front of the artisan market place. When everybody was ready to see the lighting of the bonfire the “Diabletes” would appear on the surrounding rooftops to later climb down high and dangerous walls to dance around the fire to the beat of the drums. Since their conception the “Diabletes” have generated great expectation and have always been well received by the attending crowds, so much so that they have become an indispensable part of this magical night in Haría for over 20 years.
Today the spectacle of the demons is well–known throughout the island. Grown-ups as well as kids await their appearance well into the night each year. Many make their way to the north of the island in order to enjoy this unique and different evening.
The young men and women who make up the group of “Diabletes” are still anonymous today and only they themselves know the members of the group. They have all the control over their costumes and show and prepare their appearance each year with the intention of surprising visitors with their “Fire Dance”. Something different for a mystery filled evening in which Summer is welcomed.