The “Cardos” of the Bonfires of San Juan

One of the initial objectives of the Promoting Commission of the Bonfires of San Juan, when it began its journey was, as far as possible, to rescue most of the traditions, symbols and customs linked to the feast of San Juan, trying to adapt them to the current time.

As a result of this eagerness, the outstanding figure of the Meigas arises, so closely linked to the San Juan tradition and, together with them, names such as the “Poetic Coven Party” or the “Poetic Solstice Party”, also related to this celebration.

In the same way, we promote, as far as possible, deeply rooted popular customs such as the bouquet of wild flowers, so associated with this date, that the Meigas deliver to the Authorities on the morning of June 23 and, of course, Every time we have had the opportunity, through our publications, we have disseminated many of the traditions of the High June festival.

Something similar happened when looking for a symbol capable of condensing, in a graphic way, the essences and traditions of San Juan, turning back to that wild plant that we know as “Cardo de San Juan”. for being close to this date when it blooms, flooding the fields. In fact, over the years, this flower became the emblem of the Promoting Commission, present in prizes, awards, uniforms and publications.

If, from the first years of the Commission’s activities, an intimate relationship was established between the San Juan Thistle flower and our Entity – we must not forget that since 1971, on the occasion of the celebration of the 1st Poetic Coven Festival, A statuette representing the Thistle flower has already been established as a prize for the poetic contest. It was not until 1973 when the lapel pin was created, which constitutes, in its Gold and Silver modalities, the highest awards given by the Promoting Commission.

The need to create a badge with which to distinguish Authorities and collaborators was the idea of ​​our good friend Macario de la Montaña Roel, Deputy Commissioner of the General Police Corps and, at that time, Private Secretary of the Civil Governor and Provincial Head of the Movement, who One afternoon, in his office on Avda. de la Marina, in the old Customs house, he made it clear to me.

We immediately got down to work and after discussing it in the Board of Directors the right decision was made that nothing better and more representative than the Thistle flower, whose design was due to my great sadly disappeared friend Alfredo Malde Pardo de Andrade, to recognize the services provided by individuals to safeguard the tradition of the night of San Juan coruñesa.

Of course, we again turned to Alfredo Malde who ordered that in the workshops of his prestigious jeweler a lapel pin be designed to represent the San Juan plant following the pattern of the statuettes that they themselves made each year to reward the winners in our poetic contest.

The choice of silver instead of gold as the basic metal for making our award was due, of course, to the endemic lack of economic resources that made it unfeasible to use gold to make the badge.

Once the model was presented and accepted by the Board of Directors, we ordered its preparation in a number of three that were initially granted to Lieutenant General Carlos Fernández Vallespín, Captain General of Galicia and Honorary President of the Promoting Commission; to the Civil Governor and Provincial Head of the Movement, Miguel Vaquer Salort, and to the Mayor of the city, José Pérez-Ardá y López de Valdivieso.

These awards were imposed on them in two hearings that we requested for this purpose, in their respective offices throughout that year of 1973.

From that distant date until today, many have received this endearing award, the official emblem of the Commission, which for many years was the only one awarded by our Entity.

Over the years, in 1994, on the occasion of the silver anniversary of the creation of the figure of the Meiga Mayor, it was agreed to create the gold modality that was granted, for the first time, to the then Mayor of La Coruña, Francisco Vázquez Vázquez, and that, since then, has been awarded on a regular basis annually.

Returning to the Silver Thistle, I was given the high honor of being the first member of the Board of Directors to receive it. It was on the afternoon of June 23, 1975, in the course of the celebration of the V Feast of the Poetic Coven, which was set in the incomparable Paraninfo of the Eusebio da Guarda Institute. There, with hardly contained emotion, the VI Meiga Mayor, Teresa García Vila, imposed such a precious award on me.

As an anecdotal note, it should be noted that the Silver Thistle that was imposed on me that afternoon of June 23, is the only one that was neither granted by the Board of Directors of the Commission nor paid for the cost of its preparation by our Entity. Both the concession and the amount of its purchase was in charge of the Meigas-75 at the proposal of my unforgettable friend Carlos Beceiro Ledo, a collaborator of our Commission in its early years.

For its part, the first Golden Thistle, the only one so far, awarded to a member of the Board of Directors was the Vice President I, President of the Association of Meigas de las Hogueras de San Juan and Meiga Mayor de las HOGUERAS-85, Mª Concepción Astray Gómez, to whom it was imposed on the occasion of the celebration of the Feast of the Poetic Coven of the HOGUERAS-2002, held at the Colón Theater, during which the XXXIII Meiga Mayor, Eva Vilariño Ramos, was proclaimed.

In 2013, an agreement of the Board of Directors of the Promoting Commission created the Cardos, the collective modality in the Gold, Silver and Bronze categories, to reward Institutions and Entities that stand out for their defense of San Juan Coruñés.

Still, to this day, the concession of the “Cardos”, in its different modalities, corresponds to the Promoting Commission of the Bonfires of San Juan, granting them, by delegation, the Association of Meigas de las Hogueras de San Juan.

Over the years, a Regulation was created for the granting of these awards that establishes everything related to proposals, processing, imposition rules, etc. which is still valid today.

José Eugenio Fernández Barallobre.