The ritual of the queimada

Surely, even if you are not Galician, you have heard of queimada. This alcoholic drink made from burning water is as typical of Galicia as coffee liqueur or herbal liqueur.

queimada

The tradition of making queimada is very old although its origins are uncertain. According to some historians, it dates back to the past of the Celtic peoples as it includes several symbols present in Celtic rituals.

Earth, water and fire were sacred elements for the Celtic culture. In the queimada ritual, the earth is represented by the earthenware vessel, the water is the liquor that is stirred and stirred, while the fire (symbolizing purification) serves to fuse all the elements.

Despite these similarities, according to Carlos Alonso del Real (Professor of Prehistory at the USC) the queimada as a traditional drink in Galicia does not appear until the Middle Ages.

At this time the population was very superstitious, and the ritual of the queimada was aimed at expelling evil spirits or “meigas” that according to tradition stalked men to try to curse them.

How to prepare queimada?

Any occasion is good to prepare a queimada: parties, family gatherings, friends…

You will need:

  • An earthenware container
  • A liter of Galician aguardiente de orujo (grape brandy)
  • A lemon and/or orange peel
  • 150 grams of sugar
  • Some coffee beans

Pour the Aguardiente de Orujo de Galicia and the sugar into the container. Then add the lemon and orange peel and a handful of coffee beans.

Stir the mixture well and set it on fire. In a smaller container (generally the ladle with which it is stirred) a small amount of queimada is taken apart, without lemon or coffee (only the brandy and the dissolved sugar), the edges of the ladle are wetted with the drink and it is set on fire.

When it is burning, put the ladle in the large container until the fire spreads over the entire surface. Then stir it slowly, letting the alcohol flames rise and creating cascades with them.

The queimada should be stirred until the sugar is consumed and the flames diminish considerably, indicating that the alcohol has mostly evaporated. When this happens, let it extinguish and serve.

The incantation of the queimada

To complete the ritual we must recite aloud the incantation of the queimada as soon as it begins to burn:

Mouchos, coruxas, sapos e bruxas.
Demos, trasnos e diaños, espritos das nevoadas veigas.
Corvos, pintigas e meigas, feitizos das menciñeiras.
Pobres cañotas furadas, fogar dos vermes e alimañas.
Lume das Santas Compañas, mal de ollo, negros meigallos, cheiro dos mortos, tronos e raios.
Oubeo do can, pregón da morte, fouciño do satiro e pe do coello.
Pecadora lingua da mala muller casada cun home vello.
Averno de Satan e Belcebu, lume dos cadavres ardentes, corpos mutilados dos indecentes, peidos dos infernales cus, muxido da mar embravescida.
Barriga inútil da muller solteira, falar dos gatos que andan a xaneira, guedella porra da cabra mal parida.
Con este fol levantarei as chamas deste lume que asemella ao do inferno, e fuxiran as bruxas acabalo das súas escobas, indose bañar na praia das areas gordas.
¡Oide, oide! os ruxidos que dan as que non poden deixar de queimarse no agoardente, quedando asi purificadas.
E cando este brebaxe baixe polas nosas gorxas, quedaremos libres dos males da nosa ialma e de todo embruxamento.
Forzas do ar, terra, mar e lume, a vos fago esta chamada: si e verdade que tendes mais poder que a humana xente, eiqui e agora, facede cos espritos dos amigos que estan fora, participen con nos desta queimada.

In many bars and pubs in Galicia it is possible to enjoy a good queimada (sometimes by order) becoming a real attraction for tourists visiting Galicia.

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