The summer attracts us all year long with its promise of beach, holidays and summer parties, which in the Canaries are lived with great intensity, one of the most important is "San Juan Night" and "San Juan Bautista Day".
Religious or pagan festival?
Due to its proximity to the summer solstice on June 21 (the shortest night of the year), the festivities of San Juan are enjoyed in many places, from June 21 to 24. A festival, where the divine and the pagan go hand in hand in a cascade of folk traditions and rituals linked to fire, water and herbs.
John the Baptist is considered as the last prophet before Christ and sent to prepare the arrival of the Messiah, whom he baptized. He was born six months before Jesus and lived in the desert, where he dedicated himself to preaching, praying and baptizing.
It is the most celebrated saint in all of Europe and the celebration is celebrated commemorating the day of his birth, on June 24th.
How are these celebrations celebrated?
They have inherited a series of pre-Christian rituals that are based on the sun and fire, lighting bonfires to preserve the attendants of all evil for a year. This custom of lighting bonfires is believed to come from an ancient worship of the sun.
The night of San Juan, from 23 to 24 June, becomes a magical night and a series of rituals, some very picturesque, are essential if we want to attract good luck, health or love.
During the day celebrations are celebrated, masses, processions headed by the famous "Bouquet" made with fruits, flowers and sweets, that is offered to the saint, etc. The “Ramo” tradition is present in most of the religious festivals of La Gomera, being for the gomeros, as important as the dance of the drum or the “chácaras”.
Most common rituals in the Canary Islands
The three symbols on which the ancestral rituals of tonight are based are fire, water and plants.
- Fire: in the bonfires are burned, clothes, papers and any object that represents a bad memory that we want to forget, of which the fire purifies us, releasing us. Skipping over these bonfires, a minimum of three times, gives good luck and good health, throughout the following year. At midnight, they also usually burn a paper with written desires to be fulfilled in the current year.
The origin of the custom of lighting bonfires is associated with celebrations celebrating the arrival of the summer solstice on June 21 in the northern hemisphere, whose main ritual was to light a bonfire in order to give more strength In the sun ", which from those days was becoming more" weak. "
- Water: it is said that all waters have healing virtues tonight, so bathe in the sea or in a river during the night of San Juan, ensures health for the whole year. Who bathes in the dew that falls that night will be protected throughout the year (high areas of the island). To lie naked and with his back to the sea, looking at the moon, will allow some one to do certain wonders. In the Canaries, the beach is the main place of celebration, so it is said that salt water helps to cleanse the impurities of the soul.
- Plants: plants are believed to multiply their healing properties tonight. On some islands, laurel branches ("parrots", as they are commonly known) are placed on the windows and doors of San Juan to attract good luck and drive away evil spirits.
Whatever ritual you have performed this year, we wish you a good year of health and good wishes fulfilled.