Noche de San Juan history: Beach Thursday special!

What does Noche de San Juan history has to do with Beach Thursday, some of you may ask? Well, all of it! Through a fun photo essay, I’ll describe this exciting beach festival. And while it is also celebrated in Portugal, I’ll focus on Spain and Puerto Rico today. Good way to warm up before I go to freeze my butt in Canada this Saturday! 😉

Noche de San Juan history, Portugal beach

Bonfires as seen from a beach in Medeira, Portugal by zyberchema, Flickr

Noche de San Juan history

The original Christian holiday honors John the Baptist on June 24th. However, its eve (Noche de Fuego) is an adaptation of an earlier pagan festival, which paid tribute to the sun. FIRE and water take center stage, symbolizing the cleansing of sins.

In short, Noche de San Juan is a celebration of the shortest night of the year, used as an opportunity to “start anew” (+ party). And while the summer solstice is actually closer to June 21st, the church wanted to celebrate it by St. John’s holiday (night of June 23rd). So it stuck!

Noche de San Juan history, Night of Fire

Giant Noche de San Juan bonfire in Spain by Lumiago, Flickr

Whether we’re talking about it in Spain or Puerto Rico, the origins are the same. Conquistadors got here, traditions were passed on, you know the deal. When it comes to practice, though? Somewhat different!

Noche de San Juan customs, traditions, and superstitions

Naturally, Noche de San Juan customs and traditions aren’t the same in Spain and Puerto Rico anymore. While Spaniards focus more on fire rituals, Puerto Ricans simply like to have a great beach concert and splash into the ocean. Here are some examples:

– It’s believed that as soon as the sun comes up the morning of June 24, the waters of fountains and rivers are full of special powers to cure and protect people. Additionally, whoever bathes in the dew of that night will be protected for the rest of the year (only in Spain).

Noche de San Juan history, Puerto Rico beach

The party starts early! Ocean Park beach, Puerto Rico by Amber Porter

– Going backwards (naked!) into the ocean, while looking at the moon, will give the bather special powers on Noche de San Juan (in Spain). OR you can simply jump backwards into the ocean, even if wearing a bathing suit, 7 times after midnight of June 24th for good luck (in Puerto Rico).

– Singles who look through the window of their home after midnight of June 24 will see the love of their life walk by (either Spain or Puerto Rico).

– A scary-looking ragdoll is burned by the ocean, while making a variety of petitions and promises (only in some coastal towns, Andalucia, and the Canary Islands).

Noche de San Juan customs and traditions, Canary Islands

Playa Jardín, Canary Islands by Carmen Fuentes

Noche de San Juan: modern celebrations

While the previous Noche de San Juan customs and traditions are kept by some, most youngsters simply go to the beach to party the night of June 23rd. To give you a taste of what this holiday is like nowadays in both Spain and Puerto Rico, here are some videos of the respective celebrations:

Noche de San Juan in Spain, also known as The Night of Fire:

Noche de San Juan in Puerto Rico’s capital:

I’m excited to be celebrating Noche de San Juan in Puerto Rico this year. PLUS my birthday is that same week (June 25) 😉 Mr. B and I have rented a studio by the beach, so will sure be taking great photos of the party by Ocean Park beach! Can’t wait for next month 😀

Yay for the good times and bye-bye to the gloomy days (I hope…!).

Noche de San Juan history, beach fireworks

Playa de Las Canteras, Las Palmas by JUAN RAMON RODRIGUEZ SOSA

Did you know about Noche de San Juan history? Have you celebrated it?

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