Las Hogueras de San Juan – The Bonfiers of St. John
On the night of the 23rd of June, the shortest of the year, many cities in Spain welcome the beginning of summer with a popular festival known as ‘Las Hogueras de San Juan’. It is a night full of fire, music, food and water, where people are united at the beach and sit around bonfires to commemorate the night.
The origins of the event go back to many centuries ago, when men ruled their lives over the Sun, which during a period lost its strength and so the days became shorter. For fear of being in the dark, they began to have celebrations bringing light and heat, and with this the arrival of the Summer season.
Nowadays every Spanish city near the coast has similar customs for the celebration, yet they also have their own peculiarities. In Valencia, clubs, associations and ‘fallas’ prepare the festival with the purpose of making everyone enjoy the magical night. Thousands of people gather and walk together all the way to the beach and once there, enjoy the fire, great food and an even better atmosphere, which is definitely the main attraction of the night. At midnight, there are fireworks to give way to the Summer and after this, people continue the party with Dj’s, ‘discomóvil’ and drinks.
You must also know that this festival has many traditions, all linked to superstition. One of them is that in order for one’s wishes to come true, you must write them down on a paper and throw it into the fire. The ritual also says that jumping seven times the waves at midnight will ensure one’s luck and health for a year- know that you have to jump them backwards for this to happen. However, one of the most popular traditions is to jump over the small bonfires*, which is done to ward off negative energies.
*Note: Make sure you do not do this after the consumption of alcohol.
So if you are around on this date, get down to the beach and make the most out of it, as it is only once a year!