Saint John’s Eve on the Costa del Sol is paradoxical, because on the one hand it is the shortest of the year, but on the other, it is enjoyed with such intensity that it becomes one of the longest. The night of San Juan in Marbella is one of the most magical dates on the calendar, so on June 23rd thousands of people of all ages celebrate along the coast of Malaga on the night of San Juan.
San Juan in Marbella is a festivity that you must experience. It is really beautiful to see the mist of the bonfires on the beach, the multitude of people who go into the sea at the same time and feel the festive spirit that floods the whole celebration. For all the above we recommend that if you have the opportunity to spend tonight in Marbella do not miss to enjoy one of the most deep-seated coastal festivals in our country.
The celebration of this holiday is ancient and different cultures have adopted and adapted it. For example, Celt druids celebrated the summer solstice by making bonfires to ask gods to be favourable to them and Greeks made purifying bonfires to honour the Sun God and Light God.
The Christian tradition comes from the adaptation of the pagan tradition to teachings of the Bible, based on the bonfire that Zechariah made after the birth of his son, John.
Saint John’s Eve
Saint John’s eve fireworks – photo courtesy weeky.es
In this celebration, the fire of the bonfire is used to burn the “Júas,” big rag dolls generally filled with sawdust, made by the neighbours mocking popular personalities. These dolls are burned as a representation of something that needs to be purified and never come back to life. Another tradition well spread amongst students is the burning of their recently finished school year’s books and notebooks; also, there are those who write their wishes on paper to latter burn them or throw them into the ocean so they can come true.
The main and ancient purpose of this tradition was to grant more strength to the Sun; because during summer, the Sun becomes weaker and the number of daylight hours shortens. In ancient times, something only a few people know, nobody could swim in the beach until summer came; so, the fact of going swimming during Saint John’s Eve is a way of purifying and cleaning ourselves from negative energies. Tradition also stated that the weather conditions during this evening are supposed to prevail during the summer.
What are “moragas”?
In the coast of Malaga, the moragas are typical parties that take place at the beach and at night. If you are Andalucian, you are most likely to have heard or been to one of the moragas; but if you do not know what these are, you would probably have heard of them under another name, such as fogueiras or revetlla. Historically, this kind of celebrations were held after collecting the fishing nets. The music and a good vibes helped enjoy the exquisite things that the fisherman caught cooked by fire.
Nowadays, moragas still take place very often at the beaches; but they only keep the ludic and gastronomic aspects of the tradition.
Where to spend Saint John’s eve in Malaga?
The celebration of Saint John’s Eve takes place in almost all beaches in Marbella; but it has a special vibe El Pinillo and El Cable, in these locations, tens of people gather in groups of friends and families.
Another way of having an unforgettable Saint John’s Eve celebration is to go to the city’s most famous and chic beach bars and clubs, such as Nikki Beach, El Trocadero or Ocean’s Club, where special and spectacular parties take place. We recommend you dress in white; this is usually an essential requirement to celebrate the shortest evening of the year.
In addition, the Amare Beach Hotel will welcome the summer with a party, where you can enjoy recognized performances by renowned artists, a music band, fire jugglers, visual shows, bonfires and the typical rituals of Saint John’s Eve.
Saint John’s Eve in Estepona is celebrated just like in Marbella, in almost all beaches; especially in El Cristo and La Rada.
Other places you could spend a fun Saint John’s Eve are:
- MALAGA: Saint John’s Eve celebrations are typical in the beaches of the capital and all along the coastline. We suggest you go to La Malagueta or La Misericordia. In these locations, concerts and balls are organized; but only in La Malagueta firework shows welcome the summer.
- BENALMÀDENA: here, Saint John’s Eve is celebrated at the same time as the Fair of Arroyo de la Miel; thus, you can enjoy the traditional bonfires at the beaches of the municipality as well as all the fun that entails a city fair in the old town.
- FUENGIROLA: the beach of the Castle of Sohail is the main location on Saint John’s Eve celebration in Fuengirola; it is where a white party takes place. This is a moraga where all attendants enjoy good music and a good atmosphere from 2:00 p.m. on June 23rd to early in the morning of the next day.
- TORREMOLINOS: all the beaches of the municipality will be filled with the light and colours of hundreds of bonfires, where different “Júas” and bad spirits are burned. In the seafaring neighbourhood of La Carihuela, you could enjoy the party celebrated in the Hermandad de Marineros de la Virgen del Carmen.
- RINCON DE LA VICTORIA: Saint John’s celebrations will be held along the 8km of coastline. In this location, there are always concerts by local artists and the traditional competition of the ‘Júas’, where associations and community groups of the municipality participate.
- NERJA: Nerja, like the rest of the coastal locations in Malaga, has a great seafaring tradition and, therefore, Saint John’s Eve has a special air along the coast. Each year, a popular festival takes place, with live music until midnight, moment when Saint John’s bonfire is lit up as a preview of the firework show that occurs later on.
It is important to say that these are the most popular parties celebrated along the coast, but it is even more important to highlight that there are bonfires all over the coastline. If you have not lived this experience yet, we recommend you do.
Mysteries, rituals and curiosities of San Juan
Every June 23rd, at midnight, the most superstitious people perform rituals to channel the magic energies of this celebration. Here is a list of some them:
- The date – For many years there has been a great controversy about when San Juan should be celebrated. Some argue that this festival should be celebrated on the summer solstice (June 20-22), while others indicate that it should be linked to the anniversary of San Juan Bautista (June 24).
- The fire – In San Juan the bonfires burn everything that torments us on a daily basis. In addition the tradition tells that the ashes of these fires have healing powers.
- The miraculous water – The legend tells that in this celebration water is the symbol of fertility and purity, it is also said that from midnight water provides happiness, which is why it is tradition to take a bath in the sea during San Juan.
- Jump over the bonfires – Jumping bonfires is another ritual of San Juan, also if when you jump a flower braid is throw to the person you love and he/she picks it up, the couple will have good fortune
- Medicinal herbs in the Windows – A millenarian tradition of this festivity is going out into the country to pick up medicinal and aromatic herbs that must then be hung in the windows of the houses so that the blessing of San Juan can take effect.
- Find a clover – It is also traditional in some places to look for a clover during San Juan, as this way you can get love or prosperity. If you find one of two leaves, it will bring you love; if it’s three, it can serve as a good luck charm; if instead it is four, you will receive wealth and love; and you are lucky to find one of five, you are in luck because you will have gotten a powerful amulet to attract wealth.
Marbella events guide, a five-star destination perfect to avoid boredom
*Main photo credit to Calavision / Shutterstock.com