February 2 and 3

On February 2, on the eve of San Blas, residents traditionally gather in their neighborhoods around bonfires that are lit to coincide with the end of pruning the olive grove. The fire welcomes the familiarity with which the neighborhood is lived in the town, where everyone who passes is invited and well received, while enjoying the delicious roasts. Sometimes the celebration ends at dawn with a breakfast of churros and chocolate, and the purchase of bagels from San Blas to take to the parish to be blessed.

Curiously, in La Carolina, the celebration associated with the burning of the pruning of the olive tree and everything old is not held for San Antón (January 17) as is typical in the rest of the province of Jaén. Bonfires are made here on the night of February 2, when the Catholic liturgy celebrates the Purification of the Virgin Mary and the Presentation of the Child Jesus to the Temple. Under the Law of Moses, mothers who gave birth were legally “unclean” and could not attend public religious services for 40 days if male or 80 if female. When that day arrived, they had to go to the Temple, make the offering of a lamb or a dove or a dove if they were poor, and receive legal purification from the priest.

Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary took advantage of the moment to carry out another symbolic rite, which had been law for the Jews, which consisted of ransoming the first-born son, who was obliged to be handed over to the priesthood, and to free them from that destination they had to compensate with a payment of 5 silver coins. They did the same with Jesus, and in the Christian liturgy it took the form of the Presentation at the Temple.

The bonfires represent the purification of Mary and for this reason the remains of the pruning of the olive grove, the furniture and old things (the impure) are burned. And they also represent the light that is embodied in the Messiah, as Simeon said when he saw Jesus in the Temple, he will be “the Light of the world and its peoples”.

The rite is completed with the celebration of the curative and healing gift of San Blas, so that the blessing of the bread, food and traditional donuts has to do with the desire to protect oneself from throat diseases, so typical of winter.