Go backwards into the water and jump over the bonfire!
Go backwards into the water and jump over the bonfire! San Juan (Midsummer Eve) in Spain is a great experience and not quite as in other parts of Europe.
Although Midsummer Eve is celebrated throughout Europe, the Spaniards have a very different way to celebrate this day. In Spain they are generally very fond of celebrating and there are lots of fiestas all year round to celebrate different things. But San Juan is one of the largest. In Spain, San Juan is always celebrated on 23rd of June.
In the coastal towns, hundreds of thousands of people gather on the beaches to celebrate San Juan, «everybody» go to the beach this evening. Some gather for dinner before going on the beach, but very many bring chairs, tents and lots of food and drink and spend the whole evening and night on the beach with family and friends. Both big and small, the kids are included in everything. And in Spain you can be out all night at this time, it's nice and warm and the temperature rarely drops below 25 degrees at night.
For the Spaniards, San Juan is more like New Year's Eve in the northern part of Europe. The day represents a new start for the Spaniards, and many of the different traditions are linked to cleansing the soul and outreach good wishes for the next year, as well as clearing their minds. Tradition is that those who celebrate San Juan cleanse themselves from evil spirits through fire and water.
There is therefore a lot of bonfires around the beaches, and people enjoy music, food and drinks to celebrate San Juan.
At 12 o'clock in the evening, do not be surprised when you see thousands of Spaniards moving backwards into the water. Although not everyone believes any more that the soul is cleansed in this way, but it is a tradition, and in Spain they are very fond of traditions.
This is a fun thing to join, and if you have the opportunity, try it! It's an experience to go backwards in to the water at midnight along with thousands of other people. Those who really want to follow the traditions even fill seawater into bottles to take it home and splash it in the corners of the house as this is considered holy water. To jump three times over the bonfire or to walk walk on it is a tradition in many places, and this will clean you soul and burn up your problems.
Another custom at the seaside is that women who want to get pregnant lay down by the sea and let nine waves splash over them. I must admit that I have not seen this, but now that I am aware it will take a look and see if this is correct.
However, be aware that Spain is a large country and there are many different traditions in the different regions. And the traditions are probably best held in areas and cities where many Spaniards live, not as much at typical tourist places where there are few Spaniards.
In many places there is a big fireworks at 01:00 at night. In Benalmádena where I have celebrated San Juan, the show is amazing. It's a spectacular fireworks and laser show, and everything is synchronized with catchy and atmospheric music that is heard through speakers across the beach. Watch a video from last year's show here.
In some places you can see dolls, Muñecas, burned over the bonfires at midnight. They were originally intended to represent Judas Iscariot, but today it is mostly done for fun. In some cities, there are also large works of art that represent local or national personalities. These are put on the beach for a full day before they are burned at midnight.
The fiesta is basically in honour of the saint San Juan and is more religious in Spain than in most other European countries. In the evening of June 23, there is a religious service in the church in honour of the saint and the bells are rung.
San Juan is not a holiday in Spain, and many go straight from the celebration on the beach to work the following day.
Have a brilliant celebration! Whether you are here in Spain or in other parts of Europe. But if you have not experienced this then you should try to experience this some time. ... :-)