Most of the parties we celebrate today have a remote origin and are often unknown to most of those who celebrate these occasions. One of the most striking cases is the popular celebration of Halloween and its Celtic origin or, as we have seen in Supercurious previously, why Christmas is celebrated on December 25 . On this occasion we want to get closer to a magical night that is celebrated in many places of the world coinciding with the summer solstice and discover the origin of the Night of San Juan and why it is celebrated.
The Night of San Juan also receives other names such as Eve of San Juan or Fiesta de San Juan and is especially celebrated in Spain , Portugal and other areas of Mediterranean Europe , although also in Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark or Finland and in many places in Latin America. In all of Catalonia and Alicante it is traditional to light fires and use pyrotechnics, and in Menorca the party begins in Ciutadella with a horse show and lasts until the early hours of San Juan's day.
The origin of the Night of San Juan, why is it celebrated?
The night of June 23 is the Night of San Juan, which is celebrated on June 24. The origin of the Night of San Juan seems to be at parties to celebrate the arrival of summer, which coincided with the shortest night of the year . Our ancestors celebrated on June 21 the summer solstice. The solstices, a word meaning "still sun," were of great importance to our ancestors. The winter was the point of inflection from which the days began to lengthen and darkness gave way to light. The summer occurs when the semi-axis of the Earth is more inclined towards the Sun and in the northern hemisphere takes place between June 20 and 22 (if you are interested, here you can find out more Curiosities of the Earth ).
One of the most deeply rooted rites in many cultures and traditions, which evidences the origin of the Night of San Juan, is the lighting of bonfires. With them our ancestors intended to give more strength to the Sun (we also have Curiosities of the Sun !), since from that moment the days were getting shorter on their way to the winter solstice. The fire of the bonfire created a kind of nexus with the solar fire and in an elementary and extraordinary game of sympathetic magic, they believed to give forces the sun king to keep shining for a few more months and made the harvests come hard until the harvest.
With the arrival of Christianity, the background of the celebration and the pagan festival changed to a religious festival . The Christians adapted it to their beliefs and their calculations based on the celebration of the annunciation on March 25, date in which Isabel, the cousin of Mary and mother of Juan Bautista was 6 months pregnant, calculated that San Juan should be born on June 24 or 25. The summer solstice parties were replaced by those of the birth of San Juan.
This is the origin of the Night of San Juan. The Christian tradition also adopted the rituals with fire and he adopted them saying that Zachariah, the father of John, who had fallen silent when he learned of the pregnancy of his wife, showed his joy at the birth of his son by lighting a fire.
Why is the Night of San Juan celebrated today?
Today, in general, the essence and the origin of the celebration of the night San Juan has been lost , either in the ancestral sense of celebration of the summer solstice, or in its religious function to commemorate the birth of San Juan. However, for most of those who celebrate this date, it is still a magical night.
Currently the Night of San Juan is celebrated for various reasons related to that magical background that is conferred to be the shortest night of the year . There are many people who follow rituals on this night so that luck is good for them all year long. They also burn the old junk in the bonfires to give a sense of renewal to life from that moment or following ancient traditions as a purifying element, jump 7 times on the waves of the sea and make a wish or collect herbs medicinal in the fields, in the belief that, if they have collected the Night of San Juan, will see increased their healing powers. If you want to know more rituals you will find them in this entry dedicated to the Rituals for the Summer Solstice .
In addition to knowing the origin of the Night of San Juan, do not miss ...
If it has been interesting to accompany us to know the origin of the Night of San Juan and why it is celebrated, let us make a series of recommendations about parties that are celebrated around the world that can be equally stimulating.
- If you are interested in inquiring into the origin of other festivities, we invite you to discover both the origin and the the most fascinating curiosities of Saint Patrick's day . Also, if you have ever wondered why International Labor Day is celebrated, find out in our article about May 1st Labor Day .
- Fire is one of the basic elements of the Night of San Juan, if you want to know the reflections eminent personalities expressed about it, do not miss reading this collection of Fire Phrases ; A purifying or destructive element?
Fire, water, herbs and magic are part of the rituals of the Night of San Juan. We hope you enjoy the shortest night of the year now that you know the origin of Noche de San Juan. Did you know why it was celebrated? In your place of residence is it tradition to celebrate it? Share with us what you do! We will be happy to know how you celebrate that night.