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Pilgrim "customs"?

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I've been asked to do a presentation on Walking the Modern Camino.
I have been asked several questions in advance, and some have to do with pilgrim "customs."

Specifically I have been asked about these "customs": burning your clothes in Finisterre/Muxia, dropping stones at the Cruz de Ferro, running the last few hundred meters to the cathedral, anything like that.

I will definitely tell them that burning your clothes anywhere is not a custom that should be followed! And I don't know anyone who ran the last few hundred meters to the cathedral.

Can you think of anything that is a real pilgrim custom that I should mention?
 
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Kiernan

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
Hi trecile :)
I would tell them: "forget about the pilgrims customs".
Just walk the Camino, and do what you feel that it's good to you at that moment. For me is a very special inner journey, and with no-need of customs.

I respect all the things (even strange ones!) pilgrims do, but I never took with me a stone for Cruz de Ferro, I never ran the last meters, and of course, I never burnt any clothes (I work hard to buy them!! 😅)

Hope this helps you 😇
 
Year of past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
Can you think of anything that is a real pilgrim custom that I should mention?
Do to others what you want others to do to you.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
The Galician government has pleaded with pilgrims not to burn their clothes at the beach, as they are trying very hard to fulfill their environmental goals. As far as anyone running the last hundred metres to the Cathedral, I've done 11 pilgrimages, and I've yet to see this-- indeed, this is the first I've ever heard of it. Please quote me on this.

The pilgrim customs I have discussed in training sessions involve looking out for other pilgrims, helping each other on the way, accepting generosity and hospitality, and learning to give generosity and hospitality. Anything else is a fetish in the anthropological sense, sometimes helpful to some individuals, but that's it.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Specifically I have been asked about these "customs": burning your clothes in Finisterre/Muxia, dropping stones at the Cruz de Ferro, running the last few hundred meters to the cathedral, anything like that.
I've never heard about "running the last few hundred meters to the cathedral" and doubt that it is or has been a Camino pilgrim's custom.

As to the things you are looking for, I would include hugging the statue of the apostle in the Santiago Cathedral, bathing naked in the sea near Fisterra (but I would inform myself about which of the beaches and spots are very dangerous and give clear warnings), going through the small Holy Door in the Santiago Cathedral in 2021 and participating in a shell ceremony before departure.

Note that I just enumerated these contemporary customs and did not give my opinion about them ☺. I don't regard drinking wine in Irache from a shell as a modern pilgrim custom but one could include it in a talk. ☺
 
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natefaith

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Sarria-Santiago (2009)
León-Ponferrada (2014)
Camino Inglés (2017)
How about:
- Picking up stamps along the way in your credencial
- Washing clothes by hand and hanging them up
- Sitting in Obradoiro for a while once you arrive in Santiago and taking it all in
- Saying "Buen Camino" to other pilgrims
- Going to sleep early and waking up early, something that's counter-cultural in Spain! :)

?
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
A few times
Multiple Caminos and I have never brought anything to the cruz de ferro to deposit upon that ever growing pile.
Have never burned anything on the coast of Fisterre or Muxia and quite honestly I think it is a stupid idea. Hazardous. To any prospective future pilgrims reading this, just to let you know the locals and the Spanish government do not want you to do it.
Running the last hundred metres or so to the cathedral in SDC sounds asinine and childish to me, and I have never observed anyone do it.

I can not think of anything that I would consider an actual custom. I know that just about everyone drinks the cafe con leche or eats pulpo at least once. Communal dinners are quite common. I have been in a group singing of "ultreia" song before (I'm not a group hug etc kinda guy, but I did think it was pretty cool).
 
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Rick of Rick and Peg

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
What an opportunity you have. You can make up your own customs. Like examining feet for blisters at rest stops, picking up litter along the way, giving your bottom bunk away in a lottery or even giving a two euro coin to everyone who wishes you a buen camino (I'd call it the slow tax).
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
As you know, there is no such thing as a ‘real’ pilgrim...
I wish you well for your talk, I am sure you’ll do wonders. 😎
Thanks. Although I've given other Camino talks in the past, I'm a little nervous about this one because it's part of an OLLI class (an organization for continuing education for older adults) which people are actually paying for. Plus it's on Zoom, which I haven't used much. 😨
I'm not the teacher for the entire course, which is about historical roots of the Camino. My portion is just about being a pilgrim on the modern Camino.
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Year of past OR future Camino
"Portuguese Camino"
"Slow Camino"
"The First Pilgrim"
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Listening to the narrative of others - many need to tell their story to heal. I walked with several men who had PTSD/Depression and were willing to tell their stories - almost like a priest hearing a confession - it helps to heal.

Giving space to others when you sense they want the silence.

Offering help when you think someone is lost, in physical destress.
I met a young woman doctor who was starting to get blisters and gave her my nylon sock liners - she did not speak English - but understood the concept of the extra socks providing a friction barrier.

I think the "custom" is that we all try to be just a little more compassionate and human - since we have the common bond of being pilgrims. We tend to treat other pilgrims like family.

Like soldiers - leave no man behind.

The "custom" is a transformation of attitude - that we are all in this together. The actions you mention are simply metaphors for these things. Burning cloths is a metaphor for transformation.
Pilling rocks is a metaphor that we are all in this together.

If you walk the entire way and run the last few hundred yards - then you are changing gears - you have shifted. It is symbolic of the higher plane to which you have spiritually ascended.

The real "customs" are nuanced. Not overt dramas.
 
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JennyH94

Pilgrim in progress
Year of past OR future Camino
CF - sections and whole (2012-2019) and part VF (2017)
On a light note regarding real pilgrim customs, one of the most enjoyable pilgrim customs is second breakfast - you might try this at home from time to time but it’s never the same! Is there an emoji for a sigh? Aaahh - second breakfast on the Camino ...
Best of luck with your talk Trecile -
Cheers from Oz -
Jenny
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
No-one's mentined carrying a shell...or the way it's different now than it was when people walked from home to home and brought the shell home with them.

Or the pilgrim's mass, and that moment when you hear the part of the reading the list of daily numbers of arrivals that includes you.

And hugging the statue/paying respects at the crypt
And if you are lucky, getting to see the botafumerio swing.

I am sorry that my first Camino was too late to enter the cathedral through the Portico de Gloria and so missing the old traditions that came with that. I always find it very moving that so many pilgrims hands have touched the base of the tree of Jesse there that there is a handprint worn into the Stone. That's a millennium of time and many pilgrims.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Year of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
The Galician government has pleaded with pilgrims not to burn their clothes at the beach, as they are trying very hard to fulfill their environmental goals.

That's probably a good way to discourage many people ; though as I understand it, the practice has become burdensome on the local municipality as the cleaning up of partly burned pilgrim cast-offs is becoming increasingly expensive, even dangerous to a degree when synthetics are burned.

FWIW the historic precedent was in Santiago not Fisterra, before the modern era of the Camino, as pilgrims would abandon their walking sticks and staves at the end of the Camino in a pile ; and after a while, to get rid of the pile-up, the sticks would be burned.

Which really was just another abandoning of rubbish, and the authorities being forced to dispose of it.

NOT a "custom" I would ever do anything but discourage ...
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Year of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
No-one's mentined carrying a shell...or the way it's different now than it was when people walked from home to home and brought the shell home with them.

Several good points in your post -- though here, a couple of things.

When they could (i.e. they could afford it), pilgrims would often travel back home by means quicker than walking, especially after the invention of public transport in the 15th and 16th Centuries, horse & carriage, fresh water ferries (rivers and canals), horse travel from post to post changing horses 2 to 3 times daily (a revival of the old Roman system of fast travel), etc. (this was especially true of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem)

As for the shell, it's true that originally they could only be had in Galicia -- but increasingly from the late Middle Ages onwards, the shellfish began to be cultured elsewhere in Europe, as well as exported from the coasts inland etc, so the shells became more easily accessible ; and concurrently the modern custom of identifying oneself as a pilgrim by wearing a shell, either a real one or an artificial badge in that shape, began to be the norm.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
A custom that I find fascinating to buy a souvenir amulet made of jet. It's a very old custom, that lingers in the jewelers lining the aptly named street as you walk into the Praza Obradoiro.

 

NualaOC

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
A few and hopefully lots more. See signature.
A couple of years ago, I watched a group of young people (perhaps 20 of them) run into the Praza do Obradoiro, They cheered and embraced each other when they arrived - it was a wonderful and quite emotional sight to behold. They put down their packs and stayed there for a while.

Leaving a stone at Cruz de Ferro is a meaningful custom for a lot of people and definitely worth discussing with new pilgrims.

Another one might be 'talking to strangers,' especially if that isn't a cultural norm back home.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
"running the last few hundred meters to the cathedral" :):oops: With a backpack? Now, I am intrigued. Where did this weird idea came from?
Individual pilgrims or individual groups of pilgrims may come up with all sorts of ideas. It's certainly not a custom in the sense of "a traditional and widely accepted way of behaving or doing something that is specific to a particular society, place, or time such as 'the old English custom of dancing round the maypole'" as it is defined in a dictionary.

It may or may not come from a garbled understanding of a custom that is no longer practised but was observed by sections of the pilgrim population in the Middle Ages: running up to Monte do Gozo and who was the first was named "king". Many other customs are no longer practiced and certainly not by @trecile's target group ☺ although I understand now that her talk is not for budding pilgrims but for people with a general interest in the modern pilgrimage to Santiago.

One modern custom that can be observed, but again one that is not widely practised by the international pilgrim population, are these small wooden crosses that pilgrims obviously fashion out of small branches and put on fences along the trail. I don't know who does this and why. It is rarely discussed here.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
a garbled understanding of a custom that is no longer practised
The historical reasons that pilgrims believe in as to a custom that they practice are often inaccurate and lack proof in historical sources. Does it matter? I guess that this does not fall within the remit of @trecile's talk, and you could even say that erroneous beliefs have now become part of modern tradition, both spoken and written. ☺️

I'd concentrate on the here and now: people do carry their shell to Santiago; people do carry a small stone from home to the Cruz de Ferro; people do bath naked in the sea in Fisterra (maybe not every pilgrim 😃) - it was one of the first things I was told by a pilgrim whose brother had done this when we shared a taxi to SJPP. Renewal and all that ...

Walking the last mile to the Cathedral barefoot may also be something that a camino pilgrim does occasionally but it is neither frequently seen nor frequently practised.
 
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roving_rufus

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Probably another custom (maybe one not to be encouraged!) is camino graffiti which in some spots has provided light relief, humour or encouragement but in others it has taken over with scrawled illegible messages covering every surface.
 
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Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Year of past OR future Camino
"Portuguese Camino"
"Slow Camino"
"The First Pilgrim"
All on Amazon
I met a woman whose partner had died of cancer. She was trying to heal on the Way.
She was planning to put her wedding ring in the donations box in the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela an act on acceptance the finally of it all.
Also a monumental irony.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Plus it's on Zoom, which I haven't used much. 😨
So, @trecile, you are going to use photos and other visuals in your Zoom talk ☺ ? You could practice beforehand with volunteers from the forum ... 🤗. We would just have to bear in mind that we would be playing participants who don't know a thing about walking to Santiago. 😄
 
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
And ashes ... nobody has mentioned this yet, I think. I don't know how common it is - I did meet one pilgrim who carried the ashes of her deceased brother from SJPP to Santiago and I don't think that he had any connection with the pilgrimage route or the sea - but I would call this an evolving contemporary custom - although not unique to the pilgrimage route.

@trecile, I guess you are coordinating with the other speakers of this course? Not every characteristic of the pilgrimage to Santiago is necessarily a custom and I guess you will try to avoid that too many speakers cover the same ground?
 

amancio

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
en Eunate, some pilgrims walk bare foot around the church, it is said to give you a lot of telluric energy, which I doubt, but in any case, it is a very good massage for your feet, unless you have open blisters, it cools the foot down and estimulates circulation if you walk on those pebbles!
 
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Turga

Camino tortuga
Year of past OR future Camino
CF (Aug/Sep 2017)
CF (Aug/Sep 2018)
Perhaps it could be said to be customary to keep a 'diary' of some kind of what you see, who you meet and your sentiments, either on good, old fashioned paper, on cell phone or as a blog. Not that everyone does it, but many do. Just a thought.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
On a light note regarding real pilgrim customs, one of the most enjoyable pilgrim customs is second breakfast - you might try this at home from time to time but it’s never the same! Is there an emoji for a sigh? Aaahh - second breakfast on the Camino ...
Best of luck with your talk Trecile -
Cheers from Oz -
Jenny
Hi Jenny,
During Covid lockdowns I've read some people are having not only a second breakfast, but a 3rd and 4th one, as well! 😅
 

Rick of Rick and Peg

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Besides coming back with shells there is the ancient custom of collecting badges and pins (those pilgrims had no use for refrigerator magnets). You can tie in with modern day collectors.

Priests have their own way of addressing the pilgrims before or after mass.
 

linkster

Nunca dejes de creer!
Year of past OR future Camino
CF (17) Sarria - Portomarín
CF (17) SJPdP - SdC
CF (18) SJPdP - Fisterra
CP (19) Porto - Muxia
Multiple Caminos and I have never brought anything to the cruz de ferro to deposit upon that ever growing pile.
Have never burned anything on the coast of Fisterre or Muxia and quite honestly I think it is a stupid idea. Hazardous. To any prospective future pilgrims reading this, just to let you know the locals and the Spanish government do not want you to do it.
Running the last hundred metres or so to the cathedral in SDC sounds asinine and childish to me, and I have never observed anyone do it.

I can not think of anything that I would consider an actual custom. I know that just about everyone drinks the cafe con leche or eats pulpo at least once. Communal dinners are quite common. I have been in a group singing of "ultreia" song before (I'm not a group hug etc kinda guy, but I did think it was pretty cool).

The only place that I can remember singing Ultreia was after dinner at Albergue parroquial Santiago El Real.


What does the pilgrim expression Ultreia Et Suseia mean?

 
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Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Priests have their own way of addressing the pilgrims before or after mass.
Oh yes, you are right! The frequent pilgrims blessings at the end of an evening mass in Spanish churches. Mainly along the Camino Frances, I guess? That's definitely a new and contemporary custom.

As to Ultreïa et suseia ... I can't remember that anyone ever said this to me, neither a local nor another pilgrim. I did join in singing the Ultreïa song, starting with the words Tous les matins nous prenons le chemin, several times though in France. It is popular among French-speaking pilgrims.
 
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Jeff Titelius

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (León to Santiago) 2018
Hi trecile :)
I would tell them: "forget about the pilgrims customs".
Just walk the Camino, and do what you feel that it's good to you at that moment. For me is a very special inner journey, and with no-need of customs.

I respect all the things (even strange ones!) pilgrims do, but I never took with me a stone for Cruz de Ferro, I never ran the last meters, and of course, I never burnt any clothes (I work hard to buy them!! 😅)

Hope this helps you 😇
Bravo!!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Roncesvalles to Sahagun Oct 2016
Sahagun to SDC April 2017 Burgos to SDC April 2018
Thanks. Although I've given other Camino talks in the past, I'm a little nervous about this one because it's part of an OLLIclass (an organization for continuing education for older adults) which people are actually paying for. Plus it's on Zoom, which I haven't used much. 😨
I'm not the teacher for the entire course, which is about historical roots of the Camino. My portion is just about being a pilgrim on the modern Camino.

Trecile, you have provided a good deal of common sense and constructive thought on this site over the years. Just go with your thoughts and experiences and you will be a large benefit to your audience. Good luck.
 

Guy Strachan

Alba Guido
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances ('13/'14), Portugues ('15), Finisterre ('16/'19); Ingles ('17); Sanabres ('18); Invierno '20
I've been asked to do a presentation on Walking the Modern Camino.
I have been asked several questions in advance, and some have to do with pilgrim "customs."

Specifically I have been asked about these "customs": burning your clothes in Finisterre/Muxia, dropping stones at the Cruz de Ferro, running the last few hundred meters to the cathedral, anything like that.

I will definitely tell them that burning your clothes anywhere is not a custom that should be followed! And I don't know anyone who ran the last few hundred meters to the cathedral.

Can you think of anything that is a real pilgrim custom that I should mention?
Good question! A simple gesture which meant something symbolic to me and my group last year was throwing a stone brought from home (in Scotland) into the sea beside the Faro at Fisterra...
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Lycra tribe.
CF (2017/8), VF (2018/9), Old Way (2020), VFnS (2020), CP (rebooked) (2021), VdT (ToDo)
Thanks. Although I've given other Camino talks in the past, I'm a little nervous about this one because it's part of an OLLIclass (an organization for continuing education for older adults) which people are actually paying for. Plus it's on Zoom, which I haven't used much. 😨
I'm not the teacher for the entire course, which is about historical roots of the Camino. My portion is just about being a pilgrim on the modern Camino.

Notice that OLLI is "lifelong learning institutes for seasoned adults".

Hints of cannibalism?
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Good question! A simple gesture which meant something symbolic to me and my group last year was throwing a stone brought from home (in Scotland) into the sea beside the Faro at Fisterra...
Much better idea than burning clothes there!
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2013)
.... one of the most enjoyable pilgrim customs is second breakfast - Is there an emoji for a sigh? Aaahh - second breakfast on the Camino ...
Not an emoji, but a note I have up on my fridge:

The sigh told to the tongue, “Go and search for words which could say what I say.”

[Unfortunately, I did not make a note of where I read this.]
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Ponferrada - Santiago (2013)
Porto to Santiago (2015)
Lugo to Finisterre (2017)
Porto Coastal (2019)
Some great 'custom' ideas are inspiring. Such as listening, giving space, offering help, picking up litter. My own one, it's not really a custom, well it is for me. I ask folk in our Church if they wish to write down their prayers and intentions. I would carry them with me each day and leave them at the relics of St James.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
I've been asked to do a presentation on Walking the Modern Camino.
I have been asked several questions in advance, and some have to do with pilgrim "customs."

Specifically I have been asked about these "customs": burning your clothes in Finisterre/Muxia, dropping stones at the Cruz de Ferro, running the last few hundred meters to the cathedral, anything like that.

I will definitely tell them that burning your clothes anywhere is not a custom that should be followed! And I don't know anyone who ran the last few hundred meters to the cathedral.

Can you think of anything that is a real pilgrim custom that I should mention?
A hug for the Apostle is, I think, a real pilgrim custom that should be mentioned.

Placing one's hand on the Tree of Jesse in the Portico of Glory and touching foreheads with Maestro Mateo there are also pilgrim customs of old, although no longer permitted.

Meeting fellow pilgrims in the Plaza de Obradoiro is also something of a custom.
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018

The only place that I can remember singing Ultreia was after dinner at Albergue parroquial Santiago El Real.


I used to say "ultreia" to fellow pilgrims (perhaps pretentiously and/or pedantically). Rarely got the "e suseia" in response. I put "Ultreia" on my sello. As I was told, "ultreia" means "onward" and "suseia" means "upward". Onward and upward!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Some great 'custom' ideas are inspiring. Such as listening, giving space, offering help, picking up litter. My own one, it's not really a custom, well it is for me. I ask folk in our Church if they wish to write down their prayers and intentions. I would carry them with me each day and leave them at the relics of St James.
That sounds meaningful to you and your church friends, but not a good idea if it catches on - think of the mess all those little slips of paper would create!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Ponferrada - Santiago (2013)
Porto to Santiago (2015)
Lugo to Finisterre (2017)
Porto Coastal (2019)
That sounds meaningful to you and your church friends, but not a good idea if it catches on - think of the mess all those little slips of paper would create!
That is true, numerous petitions are contained in one envelope. I have no idea, what happens to the petitions afterwards, but I wouldn't think the Cathedral staff, would regard petitions as a mess. Perhaps if anyone has other knowledge of this.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I have no idea, what happens to the petitions afterwards, but I wouldn't think the Cathedral staff, would regard petitions as a mess.
It is a vague memory, but I believe there is an official place for such petitions.
 

Harland2019

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April/May "2019"
When putting the stone carried from home at Cruz de Ferro saying the pilgrim’s prayer:- “Lord, may this stone, a symbol of my efforts on the pilgrimage that I lay at the feet of the cross of the Savior, one day weigh the balance in favour of my good deeds when the deeds of my life are judged. Let it be so”.
 
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RJM

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
A few times
Probably another custom (maybe one not to be encouraged) is camino graffiti which in some spots has provided light relief, humour or encouragement but in others it has taken over with scrawled illegible messages covering every surface.
Graffiti a "custom"? I just thought it was a childish, offensive and pretty much criminal act?
Last place in the world I would take encouragement advice from is some loser who passed by earlier with a spray paint can and used it to deface public property and private property not belong to him/her. Never found any of it funny, either.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
The cathedral in Le Puy has a neatly organized, by language, box of letters of prayer deposited by the faithful. Pilgrims are invited to take one or two or more, in the language of their choice, to be deposited before the tomb of St James in Compostella.

There were quite a number of language choices, so presumably left by visiting pilgrims and tourists to Le Puy as well as locals.
 

roving_rufus

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Graffiti a "custom"? I just thought it was a childish, offensive and pretty much criminal act?
Last place in the world I would take encouragement advice from is some loser who passed by earlier with a spray paint can and used it to deface public property and private property not belong to him/her. Never found any of it funny, either.
I never said it was a "good" custom - customs can be bad, and even criminal (just like habits can be good or bad). And did say it was custom that shouldn't be encouraged. But given that many people have taken photos of grafitti like the many defaced "stop" signs made to read "Don't stop walking" it is also clear that some graffiti has been taken in some positive fashion by a reasonable proportion of pilgrims. It is also something to be aware of when walking the more popular sections that there is a serious amount of graffiti on many, many surfaces - even if one would not add to it, it should be something to be aware of.
 
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Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Year of past OR future Camino
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I saw bridges in Portugal just out of Lisbon with "love locks" or padlocks attached to them. A common custom all over the world. The New York Times reported that tons of of "love locks were removed from the Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris because engineers feared the weight could collapse the structure. I wonder if many pilgrim couples have done this - seems as if it was all local lovers who do it to symbolize their commitment to each other.

Certainly one "custom" that many first time pilgrims do--is that they empty packs that have too much stuff in them. On the second day of my first Camino I left about 3 pounds of clothing and extras-- which brought my pack down to about 18 pounds. Very symbolic I think -getting rid of the "baggage".
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
One thing that sets Santiago de Compostela apart from many other pilgrimage destinations, such as Lourdes or Fatima, is the quaint custom of walking there. True, many people get to Santiago by plane or train, and there are some people who walk to Fatima, but I think that the Camino stands out from other pilgrimage destinations in that it is the journey as much as the destination that seems to attract many people, and the idea (supported by the Cathedral with its Compostela requirements) that a "real pilgrim" is one who gets there not by motor vehicle.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
I've seen pilgrims run for the last bed in a refugio but at the cathedral? Perhaps they got it confused with the tradition of entering a shrine on one's knees as a final act of penance? (As with Henry II in Canterbury cathedral after the murder of Thomas Becket)
 
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Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
A custom that I find fascinating to buy a souvenir amulet made of jet. It's a very old custom, that lingers in the jewelers lining the aptly named street as you walk into the Praza Obradoiro.

I've something similar in pewter - a replica of a 13th century pilgrim brooch. The original was found during an archaeological dig in London.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
13 CF
14 Mozarbe/ViDLP
15 CP
16 Norte
17 Via Francigena
18 Le Puy-SJPDP
19 Levante/Sanabres
Last year I ran into a group of pilgrims from Germany who were walking the Camino in their traditional costumes. They were tradespeople who install roofing

Must also mention the tradition of stealing distance markers, and leaving objectionable litter behind every available bush within 5 meters of the path
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Norte (2017-18)
Portugues (2015)
Frances (2014)
That sounds meaningful to you and your church friends, but not a good idea if it catches on - think of the mess all those little slips of paper would create!
The various churches and shrines in the land of Israel had heaps of the little papers. Mounding heaps. And some people in our group had papers that they intended to take to the Wailing Wall...don't know why...the guide mentioned that as Christians maybe poking the papers into the Jewish shrine was a little off, and made a different suggestion...the ladies who had papers then were discussing where and when for that and when I suggested that he was making a suggestion to pray for the intentions instead of tucking papers into chinks in walls or dropping them in, for example, the church of the home of St. Joseph, they looked at me like I had two heads.

There is no accounting for how people understand what they hear.

(Tried mightily to avoid trespassing the "no religion talk" rule...but this is a subject that is unavoidably religious.)

best to all
 
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KJFSophie

My Way, With Joy !
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2014 & 2015 ),Via San Francesco(2017) Camino Portugese (2018 )Camino Ingles(2019) CF
Thanks. Although I've given other Camino talks in the past, I'm a little nervous about this one because it's part of an OLLIclass (an organization for continuing education for older adults) which people are actually paying for. Plus it's on Zoom, which I haven't used much. 😨
I'm not the teacher for the entire course, which is about historical roots of the Camino. My portion is just about being a pilgrim on the modern Camino.
@trecile I've given 7 week courses at the local university designed for older learners/enrichment courses , " El Camino de Santiago; Walking Modern Pilgrimage " . They were the most wonderful experiences! My hope was to teach again this January/February, but I've already pulled my course because of COVID and the requirement of doing it all via zoom. ( I do telehealth sessions for my work and my tolerance limit for online activity is at capacity ) I was fortunate to have a class of 24 very interested and engaged students that wanted every detail. I did use a powerpoint presentation, and videos that I created from my camino photos and solicited photos from people here on the forum...you are welcome to any and all info I might have. Let me know if I can be of assistance...I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did !
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
@trecile I've given 7 week courses at the local university designed for older learners/enrichment courses , " El Camino de Santiago; Walking Modern Pilgrimage " . They were the most wonderful experiences! My hope was to teach again this January/February, but I've already pulled my course because of COVID and the requirement of doing it all via zoom. ( I do telehealth sessions for my work and my tolerance limit for online activity is at capacity ) I was fortunate to have a class of 24 very interested and engaged students that wanted every detail. I did use a powerpoint presentation, and videos that I created from my camino photos and solicited photos from people here on the forum...you are welcome to any and all info I might have. Let me know if I can be of assistance...I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did !
Thank you so much. As I said earlier, I have done quite a few Camino presentations, but they have all been live, in person events. I have been participating in the previous sessions of this class dealing with the "history and mystery" of the Camino, and it just feels so different from in person sessions. Even when the speaker asks for questions, rarely anyone speaks up. It's hard to tell if they are engaged in the topic or not. Hopefully my part goes well - it's tomorrow afternoon!
 

KJFSophie

My Way, With Joy !
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2014 & 2015 ),Via San Francesco(2017) Camino Portugese (2018 )Camino Ingles(2019) CF
Thank you so much. As I said earlier, I have done quite a few Camino presentations, but they have all been live, in person events. I have been participating in the previous sessions of this class dealing with the "history and mystery" of the Camino, and it just feels so different from in person sessions. Even when the speaker asks for questions, rarely anyone speaks up. It's hard to tell if they are engaged in the topic or not. Hopefully my part goes well - it's tomorrow afternoon!
It'll be great !!!! I've always found this to be true : A speaker who speaks from the heart about something they love can capture the world as audience ! Good luck and enjoy!
 
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2021 Camino Guides
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Year of past OR future Camino
2018
No-one's mentined carrying a shell...or the way it's different now than it was when people walked from home to home and brought the shell home with them.

Or the pilgrim's mass, and that moment when you hear the part of the reading the list of daily numbers of arrivals that includes you.

And hugging the statue/paying respects at the crypt
And if you are lucky, getting to see the botafumerio swing.

I am sorry that my first Camino was too late to enter the cathedral through the Portico de Gloria and so missing the old traditions that came with that. I always find it very moving that so many pilgrims hands have touched the base of the tree of Jesse there that there is a handprint worn into the Stone. That's a millennium of time and many pilgrims.
I've been touched by the worn stones at the entry, and steps, in the cathedral and other churches. Thinking of the people whose feet, some of them bare, wore down that stone, as they came with their faith, sorrows, joys......
Hi Jenny,
During Covid lockdowns I've read some people are having not only a second breakfast, but a 3rd and 4th one, as well! 😅
It is my favorite meal.....
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I've been touched by the worn stones at the entry, and steps, in the cathedral and other churches.
In Santiago, I am especially touched by the worn steps leading up to the statue of St James an hope they are not 'improved' in the work that is being done now; they don't look that 'ancient,' and still there is plenty of wear. Santiago de Compostela (50).JPG
 
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Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Year of past OR future Camino
"Portuguese Camino"
"Slow Camino"
"The First Pilgrim"
All on Amazon
No one mentioned attending Catholics Mass-whether or not for religious reasons.
Please not a religious post. Just an observation about pilgrim "customs"

Many non-Catholic pilgrims do -
While I was educated by Benedictines - majored in philosophy at University- I became a "cultural Catholic.

I had not been to Mass in a very many years, but on my French Camino I went to Mass with three other pilgrims in the town of Trinidad de Arre. (Just before Pamplona)

On my Portuguese trip I attend Mass in a packed church in Porto on Ash Wednesday.

Then again there is the botafumiero at the Cathedral in Santiago which seems to be a pilgrim "custom"-never saw that.

Visiting empty churches is a corollary to this --for many pilgrims. I loved stopping to view the ancient Romanesque churches on my three Caminos. For me- part of the history of the Camino.
 
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To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
No one mentioned attending Catholics Mass-whether or not for religious reasons. Please not a religious post. Just an observation about pilgrim "customs"
I did up there in post #18, and others have also. This is definitely a custom that has endured through the ages as an important part of the whole process.
Quite right, @Virawalking. Not only attending Catholic Mass was mentioned but also the Pilgrims Blessings at the end of Mass throughout the Camino Frances as a typical contemporary custom. As early as forty posts ago. And needless to say that the Pilgrims Blessings are for every pilgrim who wants to be blessed, regular churchgoer or not, Catholic or not.

Anyway, isn't @trecile giving her talk this afternoon? What did you find important enough to mention in the end, enquiring minds want to know. ☺️
 
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linkster

Nunca dejes de creer!
Year of past OR future Camino
CF (17) Sarria - Portomarín
CF (17) SJPdP - SdC
CF (18) SJPdP - Fisterra
CP (19) Porto - Muxia
I think it's the Latin equivalent of "onward and upward" but have no Latin myself.
Thanks to you and @David Tallan for the reply. I cut, copied, and pasted into my post and neglected to change the font. Just for clarity, I excerpted the following from the hyperlink.

What is the meaning of the expression Ultreia Et Suseia?
After years of research, historians have concluded that this ancient expression was a greeting, exchanged between pilgrims to give one another encouragement. When two pilgrims met, one would say Ultreia, and the other would answer et Suseia.

More specifically, the term Ultreia is an altered version of a Latin word meaning “beyond”, while et Suseia means “and higher”. However, experts also affirm that the Calixtine Code also used the word Ultreia to mean “alleluia.” And so, for some Ultreia et Suseia meant something along the lines of “let’s go higher!” or “Keep going!”.

On the other hand, some historians who have studied the the pilgrim expression Ultreia Et Suseia, believe that the expression referred to a wish to meet again, either when they arrived at the Cathedral in Santiago, or perhaps one day in heaven.

What is the origin of the expression Ultreia Et Suseia?
The origins of this pilgrim greeting are in the Calixtine Code. It appears in the musical part of Appendix II, which is also known as the pilgrims’ flamenco song:

Herru Santiagu,

Got Santiagu,

E ultreia, e suseia,

Deus adiuva nos.

————————


Oh Lord Santiago!

Good Lord Santiago!

Eultreya! Euseya!

Protect us, God!
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
And needless to say that the Pilgrims Blessings are for every pilgrim who wants to be blessed, regular churchgoer or not, Catholic or not.
I have received some of the most beautiful blessings along the way from priests, nuns, and even an occasional lay person. One of the highlights is the blessing at the end of the mass in Roncesvalles. It's veey moving.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
The only customs that I can think of that the vast majority of pilgrims do are wearing a scallop shell on their backpacks and greeting each other with "buen Camino."
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Year of past OR future Camino
"Portuguese Camino"
"Slow Camino"
"The First Pilgrim"
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What did you find important enough to mention in the end, enquiring minds want to know. ☺️
Sorry - sometimes I just scan these longer posts - Mass was already mentioned.

What I was try to add was that I feel more Catholic on the Camino -I don't visit churches in Maine.
I do on the Camino. There is a greater magnetism there. The arc of history is much longer.
How many folk just walk into a random church when at home?
But many pilgrims "customarily" do.
And the routes are historically designed so as to pass by these churches.
Loved the pre-Romanesque churches in Oviedo - smaller more intimate more like Roman temples.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
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(May 2016)
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Sorry - sometimes I just scan these longer posts - Mass was already mentioned.

What I was try to add was that I feel more Catholic on the Camino -I don't visit churches in Maine.
I do on the Camino. There is a greater magnetism there. The arc of history is much longer.

At home I am not even 'Religious'. If I was to pick a 'spot' it would probably be Buddhist. On Camino? You would think I was a devout Catholic! :eek:
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
If I was to pick a 'spot' it would probably be Buddhist. On Camino? You would think I was a devout Catholic! :eek:
❤️🙃
Same. I like going to mass, even though I've never been Catholic (and so obviously do not take communion). So if I arrive in a village and find there's an evening Mass or a nunnery with vespers, I'm always very happy to go. And the English language Mass in Santiago that Father Manny officiates at is very special.
 
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NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
I like it when there is a church service in progress when I go through a village. I always go in and soak in the ceremonies. My Spanish isn’t good enough to follow and I was raised Protestant, but on camino I am ‘culturally Catholic’ (a good new expression for me), but I don’t take communion. I am almost always the only pilgrim in the church. Locals happily make room on benches and the priests are delighted to greet me at the end.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
A few years ago it was customary to take a least one picture of your shadow while on the road.
Is it still being done?
Great addition. I loved taking those shadow pictures in the mornings...definately a tradition for many of us!
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I have changed this part of my presentation from Pilgrim Customs to Camino Culture.

I've included wearing a scallop shell, greeting fellow pilgrims with "buen Camino" or if you're fancy "ultreia." 😄 Enjoying some wine at the Irache wine fountain (but not too much!). Communal meals, either in albergues or getting together as a group in a restaurant. Posing with the sculputures on Alto de Perdón, leaving a stone at Cruz de Ferro, hugging the St James statue in the Cathedral, and watching the Botafumeiro swing.
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
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And the English language Mass in Santiago that Father Manny officiates at is very special.
The Mass that I attended for the fist time in 20 years in Trindade de Arre was said in Spanish - and my Spanish is not good. But ultimately that did not really matter.

Most of the faithful were older women dressed in black - very traditional.

We four pilgrims had on our polar fleeces and ASCIS - and we really stood out from the other 40 people in the church..

The priest was really connecting with the faithful - even though I did not understand any of the words he spoke. Gestures and eye contact are universal. The priest was so centered and his tone was so reassuring.
.
Educated by Benedictines - I attended mass several times a week at the Abbey prep-school.
Going to Mass on the Camino brought me back to me roots.

And it was like listening to a song in another language.- I didn't get the words but the rhythm and cadence were incredibly familiar.

I didn't know the words, but I intimately knew the music.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Well, I gave the presentation, and I think that it went well, at least judging by the questions I got. It felt so strange to talk for 15 minutes or so without the feedback that you get in person.
 
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Terry Callery

Chi Walker
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"Portuguese Camino"
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Kudos - pubic speaking is an art that many of us find challenging.
The more you do it the better you get.
Progress not perfection.
I love to talk up the Camino - but one one one.
Larger audiences can be intimidating for me and many others.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Year of past OR future Camino
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There is a common custom that the Camino "starts" at Saint-Jean Pied-de-Port, although many French believe it "starts" at Le Puy en Velay -- but it's just a custom. The Camino starts where you start it, and whilst preferably that would be from home / from the altar of your parish church, which is the original and oldest custom of this sort, most people have substituted this for customs that have been imported from hikers and backpackers who prefer to follow particular hiking trails that have been laid down with a definite start and a definite finish.

Too late for your presentation sorry ... :(
 

Jacobus

Pilgrim since 2008
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés(2008,09 14)
Del Norte (2011)
Portuguese(2015,2017)
Inglés 2015
Fisterre (2015 17)
And ashes ... nobody has mentioned this yet, I think. I don't know how common it is - I did meet one pilgrim who carried the ashes of her deceased brother from SJPP to Santiago and I don't think that he had any connection with the pilgrimage route or the sea - but I would call this an evolving contemporary custom - although not unique to the pilgrimage route.

@trecile, I guess you are coordinating with the other speakers of this course? Not every characteristic of the pilgrimage to Santiago is necessarily a custom and I guess you will try to avoid that too many speakers cover the same ground?
In 2017 I carried a small portion of my brothers ashes from Porto to Santiago. That was my 8th Camino. While living he always expressed an interest in my pilgrimages. He never quite managed to commit to it. Near the end he was not a healthy man so I carried him after he passed. That was more for me than it was for him. And lets not talk about the time I left him in a bar in Ponte de Lima.
 

Steve Taylor

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
June 2019 Sarria to Santiago Sept 2019 Logrono to Burgos Aug 2020 St Jean Pied De Port to Logrono
I've been asked to do a presentation on Walking the Modern Camino.
I have been asked several questions in advance, and some have to do with pilgrim "customs."

Specifically I have been asked about these "customs": burning your clothes in Finisterre/Muxia, dropping stones at the Cruz de Ferro, running the last few hundred meters to the cathedral, anything like that.

I will definitely tell them that burning your clothes anywhere is not a custom that should be followed! And I don't know anyone who ran the last few hundred meters to the cathedral.

Can you think of anything that is a real pilgrim custom that I should mention?
I’m very much a novice, having only completed half of the Camino Frances in three instalments so far since June 2019.
However, saying ‘Buen Camino’ is definitely a good tradition, as is leaving something at Cruz de Ferro.
Collecting stamps is definitely a worthwhile tradition, but not sure about this running into Santiago thing (I completed the last 100 km first, so I’ve already done that bit, though I will repeat when I complete the rest of my Camino).
I think everyone has small personal ‘traditions’ some of mine include always rewarding myself with a big bottle of water and a packet of biscuits (usually Filipinos) at the end of my day’s walking, and (if I’m alone) starting out each day’s walk by listening to Ventura by Tyler Bates (theme from the film The Way). I know it’s corny, but it gets me in the mood for the next five, six or seven hours!
 
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