The Night of San Juan in Lanzarote, a magical celebration to welcome summer.
Like every year, the Fiesta or Noche de San Juan in Lanzarote welcomes summer. A mythical celebration in which the beaches of Lanzarote are filled with bonfires, popular barbecue pits, fireworks, concerts, and events for all ages.
It is, without a doubt, one of the most magical and fun nights of the year on the island of volcanoes.
The Night of San Juan in Lanzarote
And according to our elders, before the arrival of tourism to Lanzarote, back in the 60s, it was tried to have the work of the field finished to be able to celebrate this night of partying with family and friends.
The bonfire ritual
In this sense, to commemorate the longest day of the year, the traditional thing was to light bonfires to purify the Sun and give it more strength.
In Lanzarote, weeks before June 23, the children, helped many times by the elders, gather wood and piling it up in open fields and lots. And that at midnight from 23 to 24 they are set on fire to turn them into large bonfires visible from almost anywhere on the island.
Around these purifying bonfires, families, and friends prepare barbecue pits. Chops and sardines, two of the most common ingredients in any barbecue on the island, are accompanied by the traditional Piñas (Corn Cobs) roasted directly over the fire.
The first bath of the year
To the tradition of the large bonfires and pineapple grills, we must add another deeply rooted ritual.
And it is that the Day of San Juan in Lanzarote was the day to go with the family to the beach to take the first official bath of the year.
It used to be said that bathing before then was bad.
San Juan festivities in Haría
The night of San Juan in Haría has always been very special and full of magic. Every year the municipality celebrates the big day of the festivities with mass, the traditional procession in honor of its Patron, San Juan Bautista, and the burning of Facundo. And it is that the relationship between San Juan and Haría is quite old.
Its origin dates from the 16th century, the year the church was founded. At that time, eight days before the feast of the patron saint, the bells resounded in the valley, announcing the expected date with impetus. As is the case today, the residents of Haría carried the Patron Saint on their shoulders from the Hermitage of San Juan to the church, in the center of town. The Saint remained there for eight days, before being returned to his usual place.
On a key day, large bonfires burned on the peaks of the mountains of the valley, while in the center of the town the "larger bonfire" was intended, of greater dimensions than the rest. Young and less young, but with great skill, they made great leaps over the incessant flames to drive away evil spirits.
As a complement to the festivities, sporting events were organized that included wrestling, stick games, and the traditional "forty-something".
In 1964 the burning of a life-size machango or rag doll, which they called Facundo, was introduced.
A neighbor of the municipality, specifically Punta Mujeres, has been in charge of making Facundo in recent decades.
In 1994, a group of young people from the municipality of Haría decided to do something different for the night of San Juan in Lanzarote. They wanted to give it a touch of mystery and fun.
In this way, the idea of the Diabletes arises, beings with terrifying appearances and large horns. They decide to form a group with young people from the municipality, propose their idea, and gather a total of 12 people.
They themselves designed and made both their costumes and their masks, which they say are unique because the mold is broken after their creation. In its early years, the appearance of these Diabletes at the stake in San Juan was a mystery. They asked not to be announced to surprise the audience. When everyone was ready to see how the bonfire was lit, then these Diabletes appeared.
They created a great expectation from their birth and were very well received by the attending public, so much so that they have been an essential part of this magical night in Haría for more than 20 years.The boys and girls who make up the Diabletes remain anonymous and only they know who the members of the group are.
They decide everything regarding their costumes and their show and each year they prepare their appearance trying to surprise the visitor with their “Dance of Fire”. Something different for a night full of mystery in which summer is welcomed.
The origin of the Night of San Juan
The origin of this tradition is pagan and much older than its Christian celebration. In fact, the Night of San Juan commemorates the arrival of the longest day of the year, that is, the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere.
This tradition has always been deeply rooted in countries such as Spain, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Finland, or Denmark. In Latin America, in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Puerto Rico, or Venezuela, the night of San Juan is also associated with ancient traditions and legends.
The arrival of Christianity
Once Christianity was born, many pagan traditions were absorbed into the Christian calendar. In fact, the commemoration of the longest night of the year was associated with a purely Christian event: the birth of Saint John the Baptist which, according to the Bible, took place on June 24. As a curiosity, it is the only saint for whom a festival is celebrated on the day of his birth since the usual thing is to celebrate the anniversary of their deaths or the transfer of their relics.
They say that on June 24, just six months before the birth of Jesus Christ, Saint John the Baptist came into the world. However, the scientific community is more inclined to the pagan origin of this celebration directly related to the famous night of San Juan that takes place from June 23 to 24.
And precisely it takes place on those dates because it is the shortest night of the year, although here the experts indicate that it takes place from June 20 to 21, which is precisely when the change of season from spring to summer becomes official.
Definitely a night of culture, fun, mystery, and entertainment. See you around at the next bonfire!
As always, have fun and explore!
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