The Midsummer’s Eve celebration is something that Spaniards have in common with northern Europe, although the traditions might be slightly different.
Midsummer’s Eve (St. John’s eve) is being celebrated in Spain on June 23rd. The importance of this celebration for Spaniards can be compared the way we are celebrating New Year’s eve in Northern Europe. This is a new start for many Spaniards and many of the traditions are related to cleaning you mind, purifying your soul, and making wishes for the next 12 months.
On the 23rd of June, Spain’s beaches will be filled with thousands of bonfires to celebrate San Juan. The tradition of San Juan is about being purified from evil spirits through fire and water.
It is a marvellous experience to participate in walking backwards into the water at midnigt, along with thousands of other people on the beach. In some towns there is even a firework display at midnight. Many spaniards then pour seawater into bottles to bring it home and sprinkle it in the corners of the house (holy water). Jumping three times over the bonfire or walking on hot coals also belongs to the tradition, believing that you will be cleansed and purified and your problems will be burned away. Spain is a big country and the traditions are numerous.
Sometimes you may see dolls that are being burnt over the bonfires. It was originally meant to represent Judas Iscariot, but nowadays it is mostly done for fun. In some cities there are even large artworks representing local or national personalities that are being displayed on the beach for a whole day before being burnt at midnight.
San Juan is not a public holiday, thus all shops will be open as usual.
Finally we would encourage you to help your municipality by removing your litter if you are joining the celebration of San Juan on one of Spain’s beautiful beaches.