Saint Anton's Day

I present to you, perhaps one of my most favorite festivals here in Jaén-Día de San Antón (Saint Anton's day). But first, let me share with you how my first Sain Anton's day went in 20 seconds.

Saint Anton in 20 sec 

If this short video has sparked your interest and you want to learn who San Anton is, why this day is dedicated to him and what are the traditions that make this day so special, continue reading this article.


🔥Who is Saint Anton?

Anton was a Christian monk from a wealthy family who lived in 3rd century Egypt, specifically in Quemans, a town on the left shore of the Nile.

He lost his parents when he was 20 years old and decided to give away everything he had at the time. He went to live in the desert and it was then that he discovered his big love and appreciation of nature. This love of nature led him to bless animals and plants along the way.

🔥Where does the festival of Saint Antón come from?

According to the legend, Saint Anton once came across a javelin and his javelins who were suffering from blindness and he cured them. From that moment on, the javelin never left his side. For this reason, the saint is represented with this animal at his feet. This image also represents him as the protector of animals.

Saint Anton
Photo Credit: “Ayuntamiento de Almodóvar del Campo”

🔥Why celebrate this festival in the name of Saint Anton?

Originally, 17 January was the date on which all animals had to rest, including those used for work in the fields. The owners would bring their pets to the churches to have them blessed.

As the patron of animals, Saint Anton became the protagonist of the festival of January 17th. On Saint Anton's day, Spanish people celebrate divine love through nature.

On this day, it is a tradition in many municipalities in Spain to bless the animals. From the origin of the tradition to the present day, the type of animals we see in churches has changed a lot.  Oxen and horses have given way to canaries, parrots, dogs, cats, or turtles.

Blessing of animals in Jaén this year:

Blessing of animals in Jaén this year

🔥The bonfires?

On the day of San Antón, the 17th of January, apart from the classic blessing of the animals, the most important thing in Jaén due to its festive tradition is the lighting of bonfires at night in the town centre. (also in every neighborhood can be organized lighting of bonfires. 

*The pictures you're looking at right now are from the bonfire that the municipality of Jaén had organized.

Th bonfires
The bonfires

On every bonfire they put a doll made of old clothes, straw and sawdust is placed, as well as firecrackers that explode with the fire. The doll represents the bad of the past year. Around the bonfires, the locals sing melenchones and eat rosetas, roast pumpkin, chorizo, and local wine.

📷 Here are more pictures and videos  so you can see how unusual this experience is:

And some videos…Can you hear the melenchones sounding?

📷 Saint Anton-bonfire 

📷 bonfire-2

📷 bonfire-3

📷 bonfire-4  

🔥International urban race, Saint  Anon’s night 

Is a race that takes place in Jaén, the night of the 16th to the 17th of January, coinciding with the festivities of San Antón. Participants come from all over the world to compete in the Jaén race. The competitors have to run a distance of 10.000m.

*This year the race was suspended because of a rise in the covid cases.