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Party Till The Sun Comes Up
Festivals / Fairs / Events
Member Name: spangle359
Festivals / Fairs / Events
Advantages: Great Celebrations
Disadvantages: Minor Headaches the following day
Everyone loves a good party and no race can party like the Spanish. If you happen to be in Spain on the 23rd-24th June you should not expect to sleep because the whole country will be celebrating the festival of San Juan.
The history of the celebration seems to date back to Pagan times and many of the rituals and customs are therefore of Pagan origin. The San Juan rituals are also inherent in the people of Spain and the celebrations go on long into the night. If you have no knowledge of this festival then you will be pleasantly surprised if you arrive during the celebrations.
The 23rd June is the transition between the dark nights of winter and the long nights of summer and the festival celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. It embraces the elements of fire, water and sun and all the celebrations revolve around those elements.
I can only comment on the events in Andalucia (southern Spain) but I understand that very similar events take place all over Spain.
The first thing you will notice on the morning of 23rd June is the frenzy of activity, starting around 6am. Your local town or village has to be decorated, bunting, flags, balloons, baubles etc. will be put up anywhere that they can be attached. The pyrotechnic guys will be having a field day, many beaches will be cordoned off as they prepare for the biggest firework display of the year. Huge stages are set up for the musical events that take place later in the evening. All this activity first thing is the morning is very exhausting and you will find that everything is organized by 2pm. There then follows the traditional siesta until around 5pm – no-one sleeps on this day though, every bar and restaurant is filled to capacity as the celebrations begin.
Then around 6pm everyone makes their way to the beach, you would not believe the amount of stuff that is carried onto the beach. Massive groups of people assemble, whole extended families arrive armed with barbeques and enough food and drink to feed them all for a week. Tents are set up and bonfires are lit all the way along the beach (this is the one night of the year that you can do what you like on the beach). It is the busiest you will ever see a beach in Southern Spain, everyone from the newborn baby to the great-great grandmother is there.
Everyone basically parties on until just before Midnight when you will notice that everyone makes their way down to the sea. Tradition is that you have to enter the sea backwards at midnight, empty out a bottle of old water, fill up a bottle of fresh water, come out of the sea facing forward and wash your face in the fresh water…this supposedly guarantees eternal youth (hmmmmm). There they follows the spectacle of the youths jumping over the bonfires to ensure fertility. Children also burn their old schoolbooks from the year just finished. Individual families have their own traditions which are quite fascinating to see.
After all this activity everyone settles down to watch the incredible fireworks displays all along the beaches. Then it is basically “party till the sun comes up”. This is a fantastic night and one you will certainly remember for many years. The amazing thing is that by 10am the following day, you would never know that there had been any bonfires on the beach, everyone clears away their own mess, that is part of the tradition. All the fires are extinguished and ashes cleared from the beach.
If you are in Spain on 23rd June you must take in this celebration…actually it would be very hard to avoid. Join in the fun and have a great time.
Summary: San Juan festival in Spain is the biggest festival of the year, great family fun.
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