I’m a bit bummed to be missing one of my favorite Spanish fiestas this year, La noche de San Juan. A fiesta that celebrates summer and the shortest night of the year. On the night of June 23rd the streets are alive with music, barbecues and bonfires, and local traditions say the night is filled with magic. Be ready to watch the sunrise because the night will be over before you know it. Here are a few of my tips to get the most from San Juan and some pics from San Juan in Santiago de Compostela a few years ago (sorry about the quality, this was before we all had megacameras on our phones!).
1) Jump over a bonfire! Plazas, streets, and beaches are filled with the smoke and warmth, and sizes vary from adult size to kiddy sized. If you want to really be lucky for the rest of the year make it over three to nine times, just be sure you don’t jump over an even number of times! ps: don’t wear flip flops or sandals!
2) Eat grilled sardines. You’ll have to wait in a long hungry line, but the fresh fish on a hunk of Galician bread can’t be beat!
3) Stay out all night with your old and new friends on this magical night of the year.
4) Wake up the next morning and wash your face in flower and herb infused water- preferably a mix of wild flowers rosemary, lavender, and oregano- which is said to clean the body and soul. Buy a bunch from a florist or even better, pick your own on the dewy morning walk home. Summer can officially begin!
What are your start of the summer traditions?
San Juan is celebrated all over Spain, traditions and superstitions vary but it is always a night of fire and water. Be sure to add it to your itinerary if you’ll be travelling in Spain next June! I was in Santiago de Compostela, but the biggest Galician celebration is in A Coruña, where a midnight swim in the Atlantic is also a part of the celebration!