What is San Juan night in Spain? All you need to know ahead of the fiery celebrations tomorrow

SPAIN’S beaches will be full of bonfires on Sunday night to celebrate El Dia de San Juan.

The feast of San Juan, celebrating St. John the Baptist falls on June 24 but it’s the night before that people let their hair down.

The Bible states that John was born six months before Jesus, so this is why his feast day is exactly six months before Christmas Eve and coincides with the summer solstice.


BEACH CELEBRATION(Cordon Press image)

Fire and water, purification and rejuvenation, turning away from the past and looking forward to the future is what San Juan night is all about, with its roots in pagan commemorations of the solstice.

People celebrate with drink, food and friends while dancing and jumping over roaring bonfires on the beach.

Bonfires are also lit in inland towns and cities- especially in eastern Spain.

The night is epitomised through two elements – fire and water, which are used to cleanse the body and soul.

Tradition has it that if you jump over a bonfire three times on the evening, you will be purified and your problems burned away.

Jumping into the sea at midnight will supposedly wash away evil spirits.

People also wash their faces and feet three times in order to be granted three wishes and for a happy twelve months thereafter.

Some participants write down the things they want to leave behind as well as their wishes for the year ahead, with those pieces then burned in the fire.

The burning of the effigies, or of the jua, is also highly symbolic on San Juan night.

Originally, statues of Judas would be burned, but over time this tradition has broadened to statues of evil things that the world wants rid of.

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