La Feria de San Juan: Spain’s Summer Solstice

The heatwaves we’ve had all over Andalucía are the biggest sign that Summer is here to stay, at least for the next 3 months. As it does every year, la Noche de San Juan (known as the Hogueras, or bonfires) quickly came around, and the narrow highways became packed as people gathered to celebrate Summer solstice along the Mediterranean Coast…

 

The air is filled with the sweet smell of barbeques and tiny wood campfires.

 

Once the sun sets, several enormous bonfires are lit up and down the entire Coast, and the music and festivities begin.

 

You’ll sometimes see people jumping over small campfires. It’s supposed to symbolize a cleansing, as the jumpers’ sins and problems are “burned away”.

 

Then, just as midnight is about to strike, fireworks are set off and everyone begins a disorganized and crazy countdown as they race towards the shore to jump into the sea together for another ‘cleansing’ before continuing on with BBQs and a generous pouring of rum…

 

How did you spend your Summer solstice?

 

P.S. I’ll be working at a language summer camp in the Spanish countryside for the summer. I’ll have zero internet, sporadic cell phone reception, and the nearest village will be a 45-minute walk away. Feel free to continue leaving comments, and I’ll respond when I can! :)

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47 thoughts on “La Feria de San Juan: Spain’s Summer Solstice

  1. What a great way to welcome the summer Solstice. I have yet to “honor” or celebrate the solstice. Maybe next year. Enjoy your month of teaching, chica!
    p.s. I didn’t realize you could schedule posts to be published. I look forward to reading!)

    • We do Summer solstice in California! In Santa Barbara we’ll celebrate with beer gardens, live music, and good food. I really miss those.

      Yeah, you can schedule – it’s great. You have to think ahead a bit, but it’s a nice option to have. You’re featured in one of my upcoming posts this month, so keep an eye out. ;)

  2. “the air is filled with the smell of barbeques and tiny wood campfires” – i think the air is also filled with you and D-man’s joy.
    p.s. take care in the summer camp :)

    • Oooh, where did you go?

      This was my first time celebrating it at the beach, and I think I might just make a tradition of it – bring my tent and all! I had such a great time. People of all ages come together to celebrate – there were young families with their toddlers there, older people who stayed until about midnight and a bit later, and a lot of younger people in their 20s – overall the demographics were pretty diverse.

  3. What does one do at an English summer camp? Is it like the summer camps we have in the states? Teach me Spanish-English summer camp songs!

    • I will, when you come visit!!! >:)

      Apparently this camp is nothing like those found in the States, or even England. The “monitores”, or Spanish camp counselors, pretty much dedicate their entire summer to scaring the crap out of the little kids. Everyone (the kids, the English teachers, and camp counselors) live in two giant houses, and I can only imagine how crazy it gets!

    • That sounds romantic. Did you jump over the candles? :)

      No bonfire jumping for us – that thing was huge! We wouldn’t have been able to even jump over the remaining pile of cinders and ashes.

      Thank you, I most definitely will. I’m sure I’ll return with a few stories. :)

  4. The sun doesn’t set until l0 p.m.? Wow, that must totally throw off your body clock. I’m a night owl as it is — can’t imagine how much later I’d be staying up if the sun didn’t even set until late!

    • It does! But you get used to it after a while. It’s definitely easier to stay up late here – nights out with friends normally go on ’til about 4 in the morning…. even 8 in the morning if it’s an important holiday or festival! At first, I could barely stay up past midnight, but I eventually got used to the time differences here (dinner’s at 9pm, and discotheques don’t usually get busy until around 3-4am).

  5. I’m so jealous :) It was the winter solstice here… which means that it’s getting colder (although its around 15 in the day, it drops to between 0 and 4 in the early mornings).

    Anyway, glad to see you’re enjoying the summer. And have fun teaching at summer camp! ;)

    • We can switch equators. :) I’d like a break from this summer heat already.

      Oooh, the temperature in SA sounds like Granada’s winters… we’re usually at just below 0 in the mornings also. Make sure to bundle up!

      I’ll make sure to have lots of fun. It’ll be great meeting new people and making new friends! :)

    • Can’t say I’m a huge fan of flamenco, though I can admit when I’ve seen a fantastic performance! And yes, baking is exactly what it feels like here at the moment. Bah! Off to the mountains I go! :)

  6. Any excuse those Spaniards get to party! :D Looks like you guys had so much fun!

    And yeah you did get Freshly Pressed, which I find slightly hilarious because I just discovered your blog a few days before you did (that’s never happened to me before!). I feel like a hipster that discovered something cool before everyone else did!! :D

  7. Sorry to say that my view of Noché de San Juan is very different; like a car boot sale without the cars. People flock to San José from all over and after the bonfires & BBQs have finished, which in itself is pretty cool, there are cars racing around the streets all night with bass-bins maxed doing hand-brake turns and wheel spins up the narrowest of streets, sometimes damaging cars, sometimes running over animals. People urinating in the streets and residents front gardens and an immense amount of rubbish left on the beach, which does get cleared by local authorities (i.e. NOT the mess-makers). I’m the first to love a good party and especially on the beach but in San José it’s anything but the lovely affair you have described sadly… I wish it were otherwise. A little further up the coast though, I hear it IS as you say, but you have to drive to get there and there are police checks on nearly every corner of every coastal town which is a pain :-)

  8. Looks like a lot of fun! And here too, summer is approaching with a lot of heat! But in some ways it is enjoyable but in some ways it is unbearable! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! :)

  9. spain always has been a love for me and my hubby..!! hopefully once we will be ther to enjoy every bit of fun:):):):):)

  10. We celebrated this years Noche de San Juan with a concert featuring the great Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballe and at midnight strolled along the Paseo Maratimo (sea front) watching the fireworks burst over Puerto Banus. Enjoy the summer camp!!

  11. I spent the San Juan Fair in…. San Juan, but in Guatemala! And just posted about it too, actually. A very different experience, but it’s so interesting to compare :)

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