Know the customs and beliefs of the well known night of San Juan in Tenerife. Why is it celebrated and what is its benefit?
Night of San Juan in Tenerife
On the night of San Juan millions of bonfires are lit around the world throwing their canticle of fire to the moon. All cultures and peoples celebrate the solstice that begins the summer, from Ancient Egypt to the Far East or the Celtic world of the Druids. It is the magic night par excellence, of miracles and cures; The night of love, in which all the rites and enchantments are few to get all that is desired.
With the arrival of the summer solstice (in the northern hemisphere) the days are longer and seem warmer, as the sun is positioned at the highest point of the sky, offering its precious rays, creators of life. It is not surprising to commemorate this astrological phenomenon with festivities of deep mythological roots.
It is at the Feast of San Juan, also known as the Night of San Juan, where throughout Europe, especially in Spain, bonfires are lit using fire as a purifying element.
Although the shortest night of the year is June 21, the fires of San Juan burn during the night from 23 to 24. (Although the common is from 23 to 24) .
Being a pagan festival with an ingrained historical tradition, it owes its name to Christianity. Today, those who celebrate it do so with intentionality opposite to its original sense, to pay homage to the sun. But it is not only in European culture that the celebration of the solstice is contemplated, also in other civilizations, as in the Inca civilization, where the departure of the king was worshiped and the benefits that this one gave during the summer months.
Legends of San Juan – The Fire, the fires that purify
This festivity is celebrated throughout the island of Tenerife and as not in the rest of the Canary Islands the night of June 23 and the early hours of the 24th. In addition to bonfires on beaches, neighborhoods and villages are organized outdoors with great Deployment of fires.
In Puerto de la Cruz is also celebrated the night of San Juan. The tradition consists of the burning of the bonfires on the beach that is mixed with the decoration of the jets typical of the municipality (public sources) with vegetal elements: fruits, vegetables, palms, flowers. For many years Beach Garden celebrates in commemoration fires beach garden this day a concert with later pyrotechnic show. On the same day in San Juan, on the morning of June 24, the so-called goat bath is produced at the fishing pier of the tourist city of northern Tenerife.
In Punta del Hidalgo, in the north of Tenerife, is celebrated the feast of San Juan (which they call the pointers San Juanito). Before dark, a group of young men picks up the image of the saint from the town’s church and shifts it to a place at San Juan Night or the sea that they call “El Güigo.” Accompanied by local rondallas, in walk romero, stopping to the rhythm of the wine swallows, rests this small image in the coastal hermitage. There the burning of bonfires is realized while it dusk enters parrandas and spells.
In San Juan The meigas and witches will flee. In the Canaries they descend to their patron Saint to be a witness with the faithful of the bonfires. You go with old memories, pictures, clothes, books. When they are burned, they are called “farewell” and the new experiences are awaited with enthusiasm.
Making bonfires had a meaning of purification
Many are the rituals of St. John’s Eve, the day before June 24, but all revolve around the exaltation of fire. In fact, this is the festival of fire par excellence, the king of fire festivals to the extent that the pagan cult of fire and bonfires, have been preserved more than in other festivals, and popular custom has maintained its practice Even within the same Christianity, although it has not been able to give a convincing religious explanation of this habit.
The great protagonist of the Night of San Juan is the fire, whose purpose is not only to pay tribute to the sun, but also to purify the sins of man. Formerly small bonfires were made in which potatoes or sweet potatoes were heated, which were then offered to assistants to ensure sufficient food throughout the year. Old clothes, papers, and any object that represented a bad memory were also thrown into the flames, and so the bad events of the previous twelve months were exorcised.
Another custom related to the Night of San Juan is the walk on the fire. The devotees prepare paths of embers from two meters long by one meter wide and walk barefoot on them without suffering damage. The celebration is accompanied by dances, food and drinks.
Actually the night of the solstice is the one of the 21 of June although the Church has adapted it to the celebration of San Juan.
Legends Beliefs and Traditions
Different legends or popular traditions are related to the night of San Juan. The legends of San Juan have in common the magical and supernatural aspect of this date. It is as if at this time an invisible door was opened, something similar on the other side of the mirror. Access to enchanted caves, castles and palaces is allowed. Everything seems to be tinged with a magic halo. The legends take advantage of the popular transmission and this magical environment to continue transmitting.
There are many beliefs that relate to this magical night, and countless traditions with which it is celebrated, but we will tell you some of the most popular in Tenerife:
- San Juan bath In the exact moment that the sun illuminates the dawn of the 24th, the waters of fountains and streams are endowed with special powers to heal and provide protection to the people.
- Who bathes in the dew that falls that night will be protected throughout the year (high areas of the island).
- To lie naked and with his back to the sea, looking at the moon, will allow some one to do certain wonders.
- Placing yourself under a fig tree with a guitar in your hands can learn to play it immediately.
- Singles and singles, who start on the 24th, look out the window of your house, you will see the love of your life pass by.
- Burning a paper where it has been written, whatever you want to forget, you can achieve well-being for the whole year.
- If a woman looks naked and with her back in a mirror, at midnight and with the light of a candle, she will see the moment of her death.
- Whoever gets up early on the 24th will not sleep the rest of the year.
Bonfires are made with a pelele (rag doll similar to a scarecrow) called “Jua” (burn Juan), (night of the juanes) and in the coastal zones the rite is done near the sea, with petitions and Promises of very different nature.
The summer solstice coincides with the ripening and harvesting of the fruit of the fig tree of black figs (outwardly black) called breva.
- Bay branches: On some islands, the night of San Juan is celebrated placing branches of laurel or “parrots”, as it is vulgarly known to him. They are placed in windows and doors to attract good luck and drive away evil spirits.
- Ash, element of healing and luck: The legend says that the ashes cure the diseases of the skin and that it is advisable to skip the fire a minimum of three times to have a good year. Meigas, It’s a magical night in which anything can happen. Fires drive away evil, so jumping over them, dancing around them and staining them with their ashes, are ways to turn evil spirits out of our way and prepare a year of good luck. In the Canaries, during the bonfires of San Juan, objects, papers or, like students, are burned, books that signify events or thoughts that we want to forget. In addition, we throw a letter or written with the new desires to later pass over the fire. Formerly, the woman who did not jump above the bonfires, was believed to remain single forever. Families collect firewood and old furniture enough days before and pile them on a plain. The custom of lighting fires seems to come from ancient pagan worship in the sun.
- Strengthening Hair and Nails: On St. John’s Eve, believers in this magical night are accustomed to cutting their hair, nails and eyelashes, not only to have good luck, but also because they grow healthier and stronger.
- Reading the future: An egg must be put in a glass of water on June 23 at 12 o’clock at night. The next day, St. John’s Day, figures will have been formed, with which the seers will be able to guess the future of whoever requires it.
- Love: There is a ritual by which you can check if your partner is your average orange, you must place two needles on a white plate with water. One needle represents the consulted and the other to the person you love. If the needles come together, it is the man or woman of your life; If they remain separated, the legend tells that it is not the person that corresponds to you. There is another ritual of love and union that can be used by both new couples and to confirm earlier promises. The couple on the seashore should stand facing each other (one on either side of the water) and shake hands over the water saying … “Flowing water, give faith to this act, our hands are joined; We make this covenant. “
- Prosperous business: The interested party should form a triangle with field chamomile, an olive branch and laurel, and place a candle in the center, turn it on and burn one by one first the camomile, then the olive, when the candle is by Half, and to finish the laurel, when the candle is about to go out.
- Drought: There are also in the Canary Islands a series of beliefs related to salt. Among the most widespread is the one that takes place on the eve of San Juan, in which twelve heaps of salt are placed on a table, representing twelve months of the year. They observe the day of San Juan before sunrise. Dissolved heaps mean that it will rain in the months they represent. If all the piles are as they were placed there will be drought all year.
- Luck: Take some ears of wheat, burn them and, while you cast the ashes in the wind, make a wish. The flight of ashes in the air symbolizes the emotions.
Then, you are encouraged to come to Tenerife and enjoy this fantastic night of mystery and fun