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St. John's Eve along the Final Stages of the Primitivo or in SdC?

2020 Camino Guides

koilife

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
On my first camino, I was in O Cebreiro on St. John's Eve (June 23), which was a really incredible Spanish "event" (party is too small a word for it).

Then, we arrived in SdC on the evening of the feast of Peter and Paul. We felt like salmon swimming upstream while making our way up through the street party to the cathedral.

How big of a deal is St. John's Eve in SdC? And, is there anything particularly special about it, other than an excuse for a Spanish street party?

I will be approaching SdC---Caldas de Reis or Padron---and possibly even arriving in SdC on that day. Arrival date depends on how many days I play in Porto or if I take the side-trip to Braga.
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, May - June 2020 SJPDP to SDC
I don’t have an answer to your question, but as I will be arriving in SDC on 23 June after my first Camino this is of interest. This is the first I’ve heard of St John’s eve not being religious, so I will be watching for further details. Hopefully someone has experience of this situation.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Wikipedia is ever our friend "Saint John's Eve, starting at sunset on 23 June, is the eve of celebration before the Feast Day of Saint John the Baptist. The Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:26–37, 56-57) states that John was born six months before Jesus; therefore, the feast of John the Baptist was fixed on 24 June, six months before Christmas according to the old Roman calculation (ante diem VIII Kalendas Iulias).[3] This feast day is one of the very few saints' days which commemorates the anniversary of the birth, rather than the death, of the saint being honored."

Pagans will already have noted the happy coincidence of a Christian event involving Bonfires, partying all night and watching the sunrise falling on the Solstice and marking the turn of the year and the fading of the light.

Seems fairly religious to me whichever side of the void you stand ;)
 

koilife

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
I don’t have an answer to your question, but as I will be arriving in SDC on 23 June after my first Camino this is of interest. This is the first I’ve heard of St John’s eve not being religious, so I will be watching for further details. Hopefully someone has experience of this situation.
Spain celebrates religious holy days like holidays.
 

TaijiPilgrim

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2011), Camino Frances (2015), Camino Ingles (2017), Camino Muxia (2017), LePuy(2019)
I was in Santiago on the feast of St. John, and it seemed to me a curious blend of pagan celebration of summer solstice with Catholic reverence for saints. All in all a delightfully unique way to celebrate my completion of the Camino Frances. Revelers stay up all night and fireworks seem to erupt around the city about midnight and after. Bands parade through the streets. Many of the plazas become block parties. And there are bonfires. The custom is to jump over the bonfire whether for good luck or granting wishes - I am not sure, and I am not sure how many times one must jump. I jumped over a small bonfire and was very satisfied! BTW, if the day falls close to a weekend, you might want to reserve a place to stay.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Spain celebrates religious holy days like holidays.
True, but not every saint's day is a day off work everywhere in the country. If they celebrated them all like that, nothing would ever be open. For every day is the feast day of one saint or another (and sometimes more than one).
 

koilife

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
True, but not every saint's day is a day off work everywhere in the country. If they celebrated them all like that, nothing would ever be open. For every day is the feast day of one saint or another (and sometimes more than one).
I was waiting for a bus in Burgos to go down to Santo Domingo de Silos for a few days at the monastery. The bus was late, late, late. So I began asking around and discovered that, because it was a day for some obscure saint specific to Burgos, the bus was cancelled.

So, no chant for me. The parade had already gone through with the relics, but, the street party in the old city that evening was wonderful.

I was in Sahagun on the feast of St. John of Sahagun on another camino. Big mass, big procession and parade, big party. Hey, it's Spain!
 

koilife

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
I was in Santiago on the feast of St. John, and it seemed to me a curious blend of pagan celebration of summer solstice with Catholic reverence for saints. All in all a delightfully unique way to celebrate my completion of the Camino Frances. Revelers stay up all night and fireworks seem to erupt around the city about midnight and after. Bands parade through the streets. Many of the plazas become block parties. And there are bonfires. The custom is to jump over the bonfire whether for good luck or granting wishes - I am not sure, and I am not sure how many times one must jump. I jumped over a small bonfire and was very satisfied! BTW, if the day falls close to a weekend, you might want to reserve a place to stay.
These celebrations are all over Spain, but, of the two I've been to (O Cebreiro and Tinneo), there was a big difference (Tinneo was far more muted). My suspicion is that Santiago is even more boistrous than O Cebreiro. My son is keenly interested in seeing it firsthand.

Yes, I always advance reserve lodging in SdC for the entire time I'll be there.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
True, but not every saint's day is a day off work everywhere in the country. If they celebrated them all like that, nothing would ever be open. For every day is the feast day of one saint or another (and sometimes more than one).
I was waiting for a bus in Burgos to go down to Santo Domingo de Silos for a few days at the monastery. The bus was late, late, late. So I began asking around and discovered that, because it was a day for some obscure saint specific to Burgos, the bus was cancelled.

So, no chant for me. The parade had already gone through with the relics, but, the street party in the old city that evening was wonderful.

I was in Sahagun on the feast of St. John of Sahagun on another camino. Big mass, big procession and parade, big party. Hey, it's Spain!
Absolutely, but the obscure saint specific to Burgos wasn't being celebrated in Sahagun and the feast of St. John of Sahagun was not necessarily being celebrated in Burgos. All over Spain, saint's days are celebrated for sure. It is an important part of the culture. What I was trying to say was that every saint's day isn't celebrated everywhere in Spain, which makes it reasonable to ask how extensive the celebrations for St. John the Baptist are likely to be in Santiago de Compostela,
 

Texas Walker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte (2017-18)
Portugues (2015)
Frances (2014)
I understand that the Feast of St John opens the sardine season. Bonfires on the beaches apparently come with grilled sardinas! 🤗 The fellow at the Fishing Museum in Fisterra was eloquent on the subject of St John's Day (grilled) sardines.
 

koilife

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
@David Tallan, completely agreed on local saints receiving local treatment rather than universal treatment, which was the point of my Sahagun and Burgos stories. I understand that the nativity of John the Baptist, on the other hand, gets widespread treatment across Europe, and pretty much universal treatment in Spain, albeit still to differing degrees depending on the character of the location. Perhaps it's the vestiges of @Tincatinker's subversive paganism . . . 😉

@Texas Walker, sadly I won't be in Finisterre because I do love grilled sardines. I wonder how they go with roasted Padron peppers . . .
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x5, Portuguese VdlP12, Sanabres, Aragones, Norte,Salvador,Primitivo, VdlP 17,Madrid18Norte
Just checked my itinerary and due in Santiago from the Inglis on 23rd June. I was going to catch a bus that afternoon to Muxia and sleep there . Would I miss a special occasion if I don't stay in Santiago that night? Will there be no busses on 24th either?
 

koilife

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
I would definitely check with the bus line. I got caught out in Burgos, but that was a small, local line. The bus service to Muxia does appear to have "festival" service, so you're probably OK, but definitely check.

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