So first and foremost, I have been having problems connecting to the internet this past weekend. It’s been extra-frustrating because I wanted to share my San Juan experience with you all! (I also need to post updates of my weekend in Malaga.)
The fiesta de San Juan is celebrated in many Spanish-speaking areas and countries, but in Galicia the traditions are especially important. The holiday is linked to the summer solstice. Bonfires symbolize a “cleansing” for the people who see them – meaning they are starting the year off anew. And it’s not just branches that you’ll see burning; you’ll find students eager to burn their textbooks in the bonfire. I’m sure that after passing their exams, they’d also like to start off new!
In Galicia, at midnight on the 24th day of June, massive bonfires are lit on the beach. Additionally, it is very traditional to eat sardines for dinner and to drink queimada (a mixture of orujo, fruit, and sugar that is burned – but as you burn it you have to recite some wiccan chant).
Melinda and I headed to Playa America to celebrate San Juan. There were so many people! The evening was definitely geared towards the younger crowd, with lots of boardwalk games and prizes to keep everyone entertained before heading to the actual beach. Although I didn’t see any queimada prepared on the beach, there were lots of mojitos and caiprhinas to be had.
The bonfires themselves were quite a sight to behold. The flames were at least 10 feet tall and throwing off A LOT of heat. (Which was good – the beach gets quite chilly at sundown.) Kids on the beach were making mini-bonfires of their own. Apparently, jumping over the bonfire means that you will have good luck in the coming year. I didn’t do any jumping, so I hope this does not put a damper on any luck I may or may not have…
I was unable to camp out on the beach overnight (many people just sleep in tents), due to an exam the next morning. Bummer, I know. But at least I finally experienced one of Galicia’s most important festivals.