As with most awesome things I experience during my travels, La Noche San Juan was one of those night where I had no idea what to expect but just went with the flow, didn’t “Google it”, and trusted the locals. The couchsurfing group I have been meeting with had organized a group of people to meet in Puerto de la Cruz… which is apparently THE place to go to celebrate San Juan night in Tenerife.
My local friend picked up my two co-volunteers and I and we were one our way. As we made our way down the coast, the air was thick with the smell of smoke… which rose from the multiple fires freckling the landscape. Once we arrived in Puerta de la Cruz I had flashbacks to my younger years of going to Sea Isle (New Jersey) and the massive challenge it was to find parking! The town was bustling with activity with hundreds of people wandering the streets. We ended up finding a spot up a hill and made our trek down to the beach.
What I saw next was like like WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?? I’ll keep it shortt and just say it was a fun night of drinks, friends, bonfires, fireworks… and a midnight dip into the ocean!
I totally recommend this is a BUCKET LIST item – what an experience!
Read on for some photos and an explanation of the significance of San Juan night –
What is San Juan Night?
Resource – http://www.andalucia.com/festival/sanjuan.htm
It is a celebration that is usually held on the beach with roaring bonfires, drink, food.
The summer solstice remains a magical night in much of the northern hemisphere. Mythology states that strange things can occur on this shortest night of the year. Certain pagan gods, for instance, make themselves visible during this night and we mere humans also give thanks and realise that the seasons of harder times are still to come.
So welcome to the magical night of San Juan. San Juan is all about changes. It is about night and day; fire and water. Fire purifies and water recuperates, refreshes, and rejuvenates.
Bonfires are the theme of the night. Men and women, young people and children all spend time building these bonfires. According to tradition, if people jump over a bonfire three times on San Juan’s night, they will be cleansed and purified, and their problems burned away.
On the beaches it’s common to see people jumping over fires which, according to legend, cleanse the body and the soul. Jumping in the sea at midnight is supposed to be a way to wash away evil spirits. After midnight, for example, people wash their faces and feet three times in order to be granted three wishes and for a happy twelve months thereafter. Bathing at this time is also said to be beneficial for skin complaints.