Bonfires on the beach, great food and drink, and all night entertainment, San Juan Night is one festival not to miss. Held on the 23rd June every year until the early hours of the 24th, San Juan is a traditional festival commemorating the shortest night of the year in Spain. Originally a religious based celebration, the occasion is mainly now an excuse to have a memorable night with friends on the beach. Legend has it that strange spiritual occurrences can happen on the shortest night, and many people partake in activities believed to cleanse and purify them.
The first part of the night is about fire. Hundreds of bonfires are lit on the beaches, and fireworks display in the sky. Some people believe, if you jump over the bonfire 3 times on San Juan night, you will be cleansed and your problems burnt away. Sometimes, massive paper maché dolls are burnt along the beaches around midnight. This is supposed to bring good luck, but mostly it’s just good fun.
At Midnight, masses of people enter the water to wash their faces and feet 3 times. Apart from being good for the skin, it is believed to grant 3 wishes, purify them, and bring a happy year ahead. If anything, just the atmosphere and sight of thousands of people on the beach doing this is something to be experienced.
After a night of entertainment, music, fireworks and general celebrations, everyone will watch the beautiful sun rise from the beach on the 24th, which rounds off a magical evening.
If you are heading to the beaches to celebrate San Juan Night this year, its a good idea to bring a jacket or jumper for the early hours, and maybe a towel if you feel daring enough to get in the sea from some cleansing! Spain holds many fiestas throughout the year, which is a great opportunity to get to know the local culture if you are renting long term in Spain. Look out for news on all the Spanish Fiestas on this blog.