One of the most magical festivities in Galicia, which heralds the arrival of summer, is the St. John’s Eve, which takes place from 23rd to 24th June. This celebration is starred by fire and illuminates every corner of the Galician community.

The origin of this festival refers to John the Apostle, also known as Saint John the Evangelist, one of the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth. The birth of this biblical figure is commemorated on 24 June, which is why the night of St. John’s Day takes place on the night preceding it.

However, the celebration was originally held on 21 June and Christianity changed the date to coincide with the origin of the Apostle. In fact, this feast was originally pagan and was linked to the arrival of the summer solstice. The pagans considered this night to be a magical moment, propitious for purification rituals.

The most important traditions in Galicia

The St. John’s Eve has many traditions, but a common element that cannot be missed is the bonfire, as fire is a symbol of purification and protection. One of the most common practices is to jump over the bonfire nine times to scare away evil spirits and make a wish. The number of jumps varies depending on the area, but must always be odd.

In the coastal areas of Galicia there is another custom that has to do with fertility. Tradition has it that women who want to become pregnant must bathe that night and jump nine waves. This legend is celebrated, above all, on the beach of A Lanzada.

Returning to fire and the purification of the pagans, many Galicians take advantage of this festival to get rid of some object as a sign of liberation to eliminate negative energies. They usually burn notes or books.

Galicia is a land of ‘meigas’, so it is not surprising that another of its traditions during the St. John’s Eve is the queimada, a witchcraft ritual. It is a protection spell against evil spirits that follows a recipe based on brandy, sugar, coffee beans and fruit skins. The ingredients are mixed, the liquid is set on fire and stirred with a ladle while a spell is recited.

Finally, one of the most deeply-rooted customs in Galicia during this festival is the sardinada, in which sardines are grilled in the open air. It is an occasion marked by a sense of community in which locals and visitors share this culinary experience under the stars.

Celebrate Midsummer in Monte do Gozo

At Albergue Monte do Gozo we know how important this festivity is in our autonomous community. That is why, next Sunday 23rd June we are going to celebrate the magical night of St. John’s day.

It will take place in the central square of Monte do Gozo from 6 p.m. and will include a big sardinada with music. Visit us and enjoy the food, drink and tradition of this famous celebration.

Celebrate St. John's Eve in Monte do Gozo