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20 jun, 2023

Four traditions to get successfully through the Noche Meiga in Galicia

Publicado Por: Simply Galicia En: Our Recommendations Comentario: 0 Golpear: 497

The night of June 23rd smells of cacharelas, sardines and salt. In Spain, the feast of San Juan is full of traditions and rituals that vary depending on the region we are talking about, but in Galicia, of course, it has something special.

Skipping the bonfire

The night of San Juan, or Noite Meiga, is a festival of pagan origin, although today there are both religious and pagan rituals. During these dates bonfires were lit to give strength to the sun and to protect against spirits.

In addition to protection, fire is a symbol of purification. Thus, throughout Galicia, numerous bonfires, also known as cacharelas, are erected to embrace good luck. To do so, those interested must jump over the fire an odd number of times.

In the line of purification, we usually burn items that we want to get rid of and even notes or books to celebrate the end of the course.

The water of the seven herbs of San Juan

One of the most deeply rooted traditions of June 23 is the preparation of flower water to purify and protect us from meigas.

It is usual to collect different herbs throughout this day. The most common are fennel, against the evil eye, fern, laburnum, St. John's wort, which would work against the devil, mallow, rosemary, for protection, and lemon verbena, for love. Although others such as chamomile, mugwort or foxglove can also be found.

This variety of herbs would be left under the light of the moon of San Juan in a container with water collected from seven different sources. The next day, we would wash our faces with it and ritual accomplished.

Jumping backwards into the sea

As you can already perceive, the night of Midsummer in cultures with Celtic roots is closely related to water. Not only do people gather on beaches and sandy areas around the cacharelas, but also more than a few daring people take a night swim.

The objective, according to legend, is to achieve purification and fertility. To do this, we will have to jump seven waves (or nine, the numbers vary depending on who you ask) backwards. Of course, in many beaches, due to its dangerousness, this ritual is more than forbidden.

Conxuro and sardines

If there is one thing we Galicians love, it is gastronomy in all its senses. During the Noite Meiga it is common to attend a very peculiar ritual that involves brandy and a clay pot and is known as conxuro. While the well-known lines of "mouchos, coruxas, sapos e bruxas..." are pronounced, a queimada is prepared, which is nothing more than an alcoholic preparation based on brandy, coffee beans, sugar and lemon peel. Oh, and a little bit of fire.

And the food is not lacking either. The sardines are the great protagonists in the dinner of this night. They are usually accompanied by cachelos or bread. And as the saying goes, "polo San Xoán, a sardiña molla o pan".


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