Spanish customs on the night of San Juan

In Spain, the night of St. John is considered a well-known and popular holiday, as the night of midsummer is called here: La Noche de San Juan. This event falls on the night of June 23rd to 24th and has a rich historical and cultural tradition. Spaniards celebrate this significant event with joy, in which rituals of fire, merriment, purification and wishes play an important role.

Spanish historians consider it one of the most pagan holidays, but today it has religious and cultural significance. On this day, the Church celebrates the birth of John the Baptist as the victory of light and light over darkness and death.

St. John’s Night is separated by three days from the summer solstice, which falls on June 21 in the Northern Hemisphere. On this day, the night is shortest and the sun is at its highest point in the sky. The summer solstice is an important event around the world, which is associated with secular and church holidays. For many, the alternation of light and darkness has a magical origin, darkness means passing away, while light means renewal.


In Spain, the celebration of St. John’s Night takes many forms. People build big fires to drive away the darkness and welcome the light. This tradition has its roots in pagan times, when people lit fires in hopes of fertility and good luck. The light and warmth of the fires bring people together to dance, sing and celebrate the night with joy.


The event’s most popular tradition. Many people dance around the fire, and the bravest jump over it. According to Spanish tradition, those who jump over the fire lit on the night of San Juan stay together all year. This tradition symbolizes people coming together in the new year with strength and love.


On the night of San Juan, many people write down on a piece of paper things they want to get rid of, such as poverty or bad thoughts. These notes are then thrown into the fire and create new opportunities for the year ahead.


Bathing at midnight is an essential part of the holiday, as legend has it that it radiates positive energy to face the summer. Anyway, the Costa del Sol is full of positive energy, it’s no wonder that  large-scale sports events  are held here.


Many of the participants wear white clothes as a symbol of purity and purification from the negative energies of the past.

The “JÚÁK”

Some Spanish beaches have other interesting customs and traditions associated with the night of San Juan. For example, in some places effigies are thrown into the flames. Originally, when the pagans became Christians, the images represented Judas who betrayed Jesus. “Júák” are dolls made of rags, which are filled with sawdust and paper. When midnight comes, they are burned at the stake. This year, the El Palo Cultural Association prepared an exciting competition of Juás made of recyclable materials in Malaga, and then at midnight the works were burned during the traditional San Juan ritual.


The purpose of lighting a bonfire is to “give more power to the sun”, which from then on becomes “weaker” – the days are getting shorter until the winter solstice. Symbolically, fire also has a “cleansing” function for the people watching it.

It is celebrated in many parts of Europe, although mainly in England (St. John’s Eve), Ireland, Spain, Portugal (fogueiras de São João), Norway (Jonsok), Denmark (Sankthans), Sweden (Midsommar), Finland (Juhannus), Estonia (Jaanipäev) . In South America (where the winter solstice is approaching) it is celebrated especially in northeastern Argentina, Brazil (Festas Juninas), Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, where the night of San Juan is also associated with the ancient to Spanish traditions and legends.  In Hungary , the solstice was celebrated🔥  by walking on embers  , according to Hun tradition.

Among the holidays, the Night of San Juan stands out as the Spanish people come together to celebrate and celebrate life, light and community. This special night reminds everyone that new beginnings always bring opportunities and that light always overcomes darkness.