Spanish Summer: Bonfires, Beaches, and Beer

Have you ever been somewhere at the right time and had the most awesome experience? 

This happened to me here in A Coruna. 

I was lucky enough to be in Spain for San Juan.  San Juan is a festival held for the shortest night of the year, celebrating summertime and life. It's always on June 23rd--St. John's Eve. 

The history dates back to the belief that witches and evil spirits would roam the earth on this night when the sun turns southward so bonfires serve as protection against these spirits.

Throughout the day you are supposed to gather specific flowers and herbs, soak them in water, and the next morning splash the water on your face to protect yourself from these evil spirits.

So much protection, especially for a Catholic country!

lolllll. get it?

Uncalled for? 

Sorry not sorry...I just couldn't help myself.

What's safer?  Massive bonfires while inebriated or witches roaming the earth on this night?  

What's safer?  Massive bonfires while inebriated or witches roaming the earth on this night?  

Popular traditions, at least in the Galician area of Spain, are to start building a bonfire earlier on in the day as it is a lot of work. You also have to protect your bonfire all day or another group of people might claim it!

 

"The sky was filled with fire."

 

Sardines and a specific type of meat are all served. I think it's meant to be cooked over the fire but many people go to restaurants beforehand.

At midnight, you are supposed to jump the fire 3 times.

Blurry, I know, but just look at that crowd. Approximately 10:46 pm upon arrival.

Blurry, I know, but just look at that crowd. Approximately 10:46 pm upon arrival.

My night definitely went differently but every experience must be different, of course!

My friend Tatiana and I bought a bunch of beer and met up with our friends. Yes, we have local friends here! They're very sweet. A few weeks before, we met them in line at a club and they partied with us all night and that's the bond of a lifetime don't you know?!

They invited us to San Juan, even walking a long way to meet us at the bus station to walk us to the bonfire and introduce us to even more people. 

We arrived around 10:30 pm, meeting all kinds of beautiful souls and we all spoke to each other as best we could because language barriers

Tatiana and I right after we made it to our spot on the beach

Tatiana and I right after we made it to our spot on the beach

11:56 pm. Chilling in a circle with friends on the beach. Pretty much amazing. 

11:56 pm. Chilling in a circle with friends on the beach. Pretty much amazing. 

Unfortunately, there was no food involved or jumping of bonfires as they were 3 times bigger than me. The beach we were on was more party oriented, which is fine, but I'm not opposed to re-visiting Spain to partake in this tradition once again and try it from another perspective. 

At midnight, fireworks began to explode across the water. My back and face suddenly grew hot as the night illuminated from dark blue to bright orange. Every bonfire around us was being lit, towering tall above us. In another direction, from a nearby beach, paper lanterns were floating towards us. The sky was filled with fire.

I'm not gonna lie. The rest of the night was a bit of a blur.  When you're sitting on a beach and have no clue where you are, in an abyss of litter, bonfires, smoke, and drunk people, time becomes warped.  The party began at 10:00 pm but Tatiana and I left around 6:30 a.m. 

At 3:43 am, Tatiana and I were sitting on the edge of the beach in front of the ocean waves with some locals just hanging out and this guy stumbles backwards about 7 feet, almost out of nowhere, and literally trips backwards on Tatiana and falls over her. We couldn't stop laughing. We dubbed him Poseidon.

At 3:43 am, Tatiana and I were sitting on the edge of the beach in front of the ocean waves with some locals just hanging out and this guy stumbles backwards about 7 feet, almost out of nowhere, and literally trips backwards on Tatiana and falls over her. We couldn't stop laughing. We dubbed him Poseidon.

After the bonfires, Tatiana and I walked to the only local restaurant open for a sandwich and fries. We then stood in line for what seemed like eternity for a cab. Too many people. Not enough cabs. I finally spotted one of our local friends and she walked us to a different section of town where we immediately found a cab. What an angel. It was 8:00 am by the time we got home!

7:13 am while sitting on the sidewalk waiting for a cab. I was seriously about to fall asleep on the sidewalk. My eyes would not stay open. Yes, I was that person. 

7:13 am while sitting on the sidewalk waiting for a cab. I was seriously about to fall asleep on the sidewalk. My eyes would not stay open. Yes, I was that person. 

Many people, apparently, continue much later in the day with partying but I was wiped out. I went to bed and slept all day the next day. For the next few days, I felt a bit wrecked and disoriented but it was definitely worth the experience. 

To cap it off, here are 2 video clips from the night! 

Video 1: basic landscape of what the beach looked like right before midnight

Video 2: midnight

San Juan 2016 was a success!! Adding to bucket list: San Juan in Alicante where the festival began years ago. Try the food. Drink less beer. Jump the fire.

Who's with me?