San Juan (St John) 2013

Witches dancing around a bonfire in Puerto Naos for San Juan fiesta
Witches dancing around a bonfire in Puerto Naos for San Juan fiesta

The feast of San Juan (St. John the Baptist) is June 24th.

Many people light bonfires on St John’s Eve. In the days before municipal rubbish collection, it was a practical way of having a clear out. But in Puntallana, there is a long-held folk belief that the bonfires keep away witches. Jumping over the fire is supposed to protect you from disease and the Evil Eye. It’s also a great night for fortune telling, using earth, air, fire and water.

So there will be lots of small, private bonfires, and usually there are larger ones at: San Andrés y Sauces, San Juan Belmaco (Malpaíses in Mazo)and El Remo (in Fuencaliente) Meanwhile, in Puerto Naos there a tradition of witches dancing around a bonfire.

I’m sure the people celebrating would insist that this is a Catholic festival, and nothing at all to do with the Wiccan Midsummer celebrations, which also feature bonfires.

San Juan is also the patron saint of Puntallana, so they’ll be having their annual fiesta. If you go, I recommend seeing the particularly nice church , the springs, and the museum at Casa Lujan while you’re there.

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

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