This is one of the most celebrated festivities in Comunidad Valenciana. Sant Antoni was a saint from the third century known for his ascetic life in the desert of Egypt that we know thanks to the chronicler Athanasius. His devotion began in the East but he moved to the West, called protector of agriculture and stockbreeding, because it is told that he took care of them and they obeyed him. For this reason he is represented with a staff, typical ascetic clothing and the Tau cross and with a little pig or boar at his feet too.
Sant Antoni was also known for his healing power for diseases such as erysipelas; hence numerous hospitals were built under his name across Europe during the Middle Ages.
In Sant Joan, one of the streets of the old town, which was probably built around the 18th century, was dedicated to Sant Antoni. Despite we do not know exactly why the dedicated the street, this reflects a special devotion for him. At the entrance to the street there was an arch, where there would have probably been a niche with the figure of San Antonio. In fact, until the 90’s, a small statue of the saint could be seen in a niche of a house that no longer exists.
The greatest period of growth and splendour of the celebration dates from the 19th century, when people celebrated in calle San Antonio a festival with horse races, typical dances, fireworks, brotherhood lunch and procession to the saint. However, in the 20’s this tradition disappeared.
It has recently been recovered at the initiative of the neighbours of carrer Sant Antoni and the cultural association “Els Amuntegats” in a simple and amusing way. During all the week-end different activities are held, such as exhibitions, cultural meetings, correfocs, pilota valenciana, and music and traditional dances. Animals blessing is held in the Church the Sunday before or after 17 January, patron saint’s day. Everyone who wishes can come with their animals and, after mass, they are blessed before the eyes of Sant Antoni’s figure.