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Magic and Rituals on Saint John’s Eve

Bonfires to welcome the summer solstice, jumps that are nearly impossible to clear, a moonlit dip in the sea, dancing around the glowing embers until dawn, and all that with a good sprinkle of magic. I can’t think of a better way to spend the coming eve of St. John. And let’s not forget the rites and rituals that shroud every corner of the Spanish geography in mystery on the eve of June 24th. To believe, or not to believe- that is the real question. And here are some suggestions for a very special night:

hoguera san juan

Jumping Over Bonfires before a Night Swim in the Sea

Fire symbolizes protection, and while Alicante’s and Valencia’s tradition dictates that one should jump over the bonfire 7 times (for good luck), the magic number is 9 in Galicia. And not only that, but it is also generally believed that washing one’s face with dew water collected on St. John’s eve is rejuvenating, and that swimming in the sea on that same night brings good health for the rest of the year. Or how about jumping over 9 waves with your back to the sea to increase fertility? There are those who have a few goes at it, to make sure they conceive before the year is over.

Some of the Rituals of St. John’s Eve

The eve of June 24th is a magical night but it can also be a stressful evening for superstitious souls. They say that if you want to make a special someone fall in love with you, you only have to light 2 red candles at midnight and write their name on a piece of paper. The paper needs to then be placed under your pillow and, if you wish it hard enough, your wish comes true- no biggie. If a prophetic dream is what you are after, just place 9 flowers under your pillow. That will give you some insight into future events that will come to you in dreams, and only on that particular night. Health is another favorite topic on this special night. They say that collecting fresh spring water on the morning of the 24th confers protection against the evil eye, and that it has healing properties. And for those of you who enjoy a little creepiness, here is a slightly odd ritual: legend has it that if you undress in front of a mirror at midnight, you’ll be able to see scenes from your funeral in the reflection.

Saint John’s Eve in Alicante

Some of the most typical St. John festivities are those of Alicante, declared to be of International Tourist Interest, and celebrated yearly from June 20th through 24th. It is worthwhile noting that while St. John’s eve is celebrated all over Spain, Alicante’s are some of the most distinctive festivities, both at a national and at an international level. They combine the best of the Falles tradition of the Valencian Community (with their mascletàs, the plantà, the Ninot parade, the crema, and the traditional offering to the Virgin of el Remedio) with a heavy dose of mysticism and a touch of mystery that never fails to draw in visitors by the thousands, ready to experience the full intensity of that most magical of nights.