The tradition of the Night of San Juan

The night of June 23rd to 24th is celebrated the Night of San Juan in our country, one of the most magical parties of the summer and although this year will not be the same due to the health situation we are experiencing, let’s enjoy it as much as possible!

An ancient tradition

St. John’s Eve (also known as St. John’s Eve) has a Christian origin. Although many find it hard to believe and recognize in this celebration pagan elements, as its name suggests, it celebrates the birth of St. John the Baptist, which took place on June 24. It is said that his father Zechariah had a bonfire lit on the occasion of his son’s birth and this is where the tradition of bonfires in San Juan comes from.

The Bible says that it was the prophet John who baptized Jesus and also predicted his arrival. However, this celebration also includes many traditions of pagan cults prior to the arrival of Christianity.

It coincides with the announcement of the summer solstice: it is the shortest night of the year in the northern hemisphere and the longest in the southern hemisphere. It is celebrated in many places in Europe but especially in Spain, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Portugal or Sweden.

The Night of San Juan in Galicia

As you can imagine, the celebration has its peculiarities in each region of the Peninsula. In the case of Galicia, we have the tradition of jumping bonfires at midnight (to the cry of “meigas fóra”) and the ritual of the herbs of San Juan which consists of collecting a bouquet of country flowers (rosemary, lemon verbena, mallow, St. John’s wort …) and let it stand in water overnight; the next morning we will wash the face with the “water of San Juan” to purify the soul and attract good luck.

We cannot forget the traditional “sardiñadas”. Friends and family gather in the heat of the bonfires to enjoy this rich blue fish that is prepared in braziers with no more seasoning than a little salt.

The truth is that the Night of San Juan has a special charm in Galicia. In the city of La Coruña it has been declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest and attracts thousands of people every year who enjoy an unforgettable evening by the fire, in the company of their friends and family.

It is one of the first celebrations of the summer and the prelude to many events (gastronomic, religious, cultural) that will follow, such as the Albariño wine festival (in Pontevedra), the cultural festival of Ortigueira, the pilgrimage of the Caneiros in Betanzos or the festival of the fachas in the municipality of Taboada (Lugo).

We are in the best time of the year to visit Galicia, after these months of confinement, don’t you feel like making a getaway to a tourist destination within the country? Galicia offers spectacular landscapes, quiet beaches, historical heritage, gastronomy and parties! Contact Pambre Tours to organize a trip through our community.

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