Nerja Festivals – The Feast of San Juan

Night of San Juan in Nerja – la Noche de San Juan

Fiesta de San Juan in Nerja

Last night on Burriana Beach in Nerja was different from other nights. Any night on Burriana beach is a great time to be there. With pubs, bars, restaurants, shops and of course, the sea and sand, you’re bound to have a great time.

Sunday night, the 23rd of June is a night reserved for San Juan. Fire features in many of the celebrations, with people gathering together and creating large bonfires from any kind of wood, such as old furniture, and sharing food and drinks while teens and children jump over the fires.

Each region has its own unique way to celebrate and Nerja is no different.

Who was San Juan?

St. John the Baptist, (born 1st decade BCE, Judaea, Palestine, near Jerusalem—died 28–36 CE; feast day June 24), Jewish prophet of priestly origin who preached the imminence of God’s Final Judgment and baptized those who repented in self-preparation for it; he is revered in the Christian church as the forerunner of Jesus Christ.

After a period of desert solitude, John the Baptist emerged as a prophet in the region of the lower Jordan River valley. He had a circle of disciples, and Jesus was among the recipients of his rite of baptism. More facts for St. John the Baptist

San Juan or Saint John is celebrated all around the world. The festivals of Midsummer’s Eve (St. John’s Eve among Christians) have roots in ancient celebrations related to the summer solstice.

Feast of Noche de San Juan in Nerja Spain

Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southward again. In later years, witches were also thought to be on their way to meetings with other powerful beings.

Fire: Bonfires are lit, usually around midnight both on beaches and inland, so much so that one usually cannot tell the smoke from the mist common in this Atlantic corner of Iberia at this time of the year, and it smells burnt everywhere.

Occasionally, a dummy is placed at the top, representing a witch or the devil. Young and old gather around them and feast mostly on pilchards, potatoes boiled in their skins and maize bread.

When it is relatively safe to jump over the bonfire, it is done three times (although it could also be nine or any odd number) for good luck at the cry of “meigas fora” (witches off!).

San Juan doesn’t stop there!

It is also common to have Queimada (drink), a beverage resulting from setting alight Galician orujo mixed with sugar, coffee beans and pieces of fruit, which is prepared while chanting an incantation against evil spirits. See More on this fascinating story from Wikipedia.

If you were not in Nerja for the feast of San Juan, make sure you don’t miss it next year.

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