By Chef H. Delgado
June 29, 2020
The Saint John´s eve or “Noche de San Juan” is a Christian Bank holiday of pagan origin. In the Celtic calendar, this festival corresponds to “Litha”, the other great solstice of the year. It marks the beginning of the summer, but also the beginning of the shortening of the nights. On this night, it was tradition to light large bonfires, to further lengthen the longest day of the year to give more strength to the sun.
The night of July 23rd is celebrated in many places in Europe the night of Saint John´s night. In Galicia, it is one of the most important festivals of the year, along with New Year’s Eve. The Saint John´s night in A Coruña was declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest.
The entire city takes to the streets to celebrate its most magical night, being able to find bonfires in all the neighborhoods, the special concentration of people on the beaches of Riazor and Orzán, in the heart of the city.
Many rites of magical or superstitious nature are associated with this tradition: jumping bonfires, putting a bouquet of St. John's herbs on the doors of the house in order to protect themselves from Witches “ Meigas”, washing in the sea or with herbs water "AGUA DE HIERBAS DE SAN JUAN".
It is made of different plants, herbs, flowers, and leaves, usually medicinal, that are picked up on the eve of the night of San Juan. They have therapeutic and cleansing properties and this is one of the most repeated rituals throughout the Galician territory. According to tradition and popular beliefs, the water of these seven plants left to dew on the night of San Juan has magical properties.
There are seven herbs that should not be missing in any self-respecting concoction: The fennel, the leave of fern, the codeos, the abeloura or St. John's plant, the common mallow, the rosemary, and Luisa grass.
Once collected, the water must be prepared:
In Galicia, GASTRONOMY goes hand in hand with all the festivals. And in this, the traditional thing is to eat grilled sardines, drink wine, sing and dance around the bonfires. Roast potatoes are also typical to accompany sardines.
Another typical ritual in this night it is the preparation of the "QUEIMADA". There is no “San Juan” without it queimada.
The ritual includes reciting the spell of the queimada, which must be read aloud as soon as the queimada begins to burn.
I hope you enjoy it!
I get my information from: https://galiciapuebloapueblo.blogspot.com/
And some photos are from my friend Roberto, who every year is lucky to enjoy this magical night in Coruña. Thanks.
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