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San Juan: What is it and how to celebrate!

We are finally getting closer to the eagerly awaited night of San Juan, which brings with it the official welcome of Summer. The Night of San Juan, or Saint John’s Eve, is a traditional celebration held on the evening of June 23rd, leading into June 24th.


This festival has deep historical roots and is not only limited to Spain – it is celebrated in various countries with different customs and rituals. Our blog this week will explain how Spain celebrates this special night and get you ready to celebrate it like a local!


What is San Juan?

San Juan commemorates the birth of Saint John the Baptist and is marked by various customs and festivities, particularly in Spain and Latin America. Dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, an important figure in Christianity, San Juan celebrates his birth as he was born six months before Jesus Christ, making his feast day fall on June 24th.


The festival also has roots in ancient pagan solstice celebrations, which were originally held to honor the arrival of summer and the longest day of the year. These celebrations included rituals to worship the sun and ward off evil spirits.


What do people do to celebrate?

During this special evening, beaches all over Spain are illuminated with fire, smoke, and laughter, becoming the perfect setting for fun. Family and friends gather to share dinners and to dance and sing around bonfires by the sea. Coastal regions such as Valencia have some of the most impressive bonfire displays in the whole of Spain and see massive celebrations with bonfires, fireworks, and beach parties.


According to tradition, at midnight, one should jump over seven waves to purify oneself and attract good luck. Additionally, bonfires are lit with the purpose of warding off bad energies and making way for renewal. This festival is truly for the brave and bold and although it probably isn’t your cup of tea if you’re scared of fire or flames, we’re sure you’ll still enjoy the heaps of bonfires that will light up all of Valencia’s beaches on Sunday night.


How should I prepare for San Juan and what should I bring?

To get the most out of San Juan, it’s important to be prepared and ready to celebrate the festivities. The most important thing is firewood to start a bonfire with friends or family –  free firewood distribution usually starts around 6:00PM which is a big help and will get you set up for the night.


Necessities you’ll need to feel comfortable throughout the night include: Blankets, swimsuits, chairs, food and snacks. A great idea is to do a big picnic on the beach and taking turns to have a dip in the sea.


Our last recommendation is to embrace the traditions of San Juan as much as possible! A popular tradition is to jump over the waves or even bonfires (whilst being as safe and responsible as possible) as it brings good fortune, good luck and purification. Make sure to get involved and enjoy with the people around you and also follow all safety regulations put in place for this special night.


There it is! Our guide to enjoy the famous night of San Juan is finished. You can officially start planning your bonfires and picnics for the weekend!


Make sure to stay tuned through our Facebook and Instagram pages, where we will announce all the fun plans you can get up to this summer!




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