One thing I love to do when travel is experience the local culture of the place I am. I love eating their food, going to their bars and experiencing their festivals. So one of the first things I did when I arrived in Tenerife was to follow a few Tenerife travel blogs to keep me up to date of things happening in the area, suggest places for me to explore and recommend places to go. When I read about the upcoming San Juan fiesta a few weeks ago and how it is celebrated here in Tenerife, I knew I had to go.
Last summer in Mallorca, I’m pretty sure the fiesta we tried to attend on the beach in front of our apartment was San Juan looking back. If it was, that San Juan was very different to this San Juan. The San Juan in Mallorca consisted of groups of teenagers hanging around on the beach and leaning sun beds against parasols. It didn’t see very interesting so we went for a meal instead. However, the San Juan I read about excited me greatly. Rituals, bonfires, beach parties and splashing in the sea sounded far more exciting so I rounded up my friends to celebrate Noche de San Juan down on Playa de Los Cristianos.
I read about many things you need to do to celebrate San Juan:
-Running into the sea at midnight to cleanse your soul
– Burning paper so you don’t forget anything for the next year
-Staying awake til sunrise or you won’t sleep for the next year
-Looking back at yourself naked in a mirror will show you when you are going to die
-Creating an offering to the Saint to represent the happiness and light that will fill your year
-Jumping over fire to show your strength and erase your past.
The list was endless and at some point crazy, one of them had something to do with standing under a fig tree with a guitar at 9pm.
We celebrated it by creating our own cute little offering in the centre of our circle with stones, flowers and candles to get into the spirit of things. As it turned out, we were the only one’s at the beach with an offering, after all the things I’d read online, the locals had clearly missed the memo. Bonfires were dotted along the beach, ranging from small flickers of flames to monstrous beasts of fire and some still waiting to be lit. The parade came past with a variety of dancers in vivid colours symbolising the fire and wishes side of the fiesta. We chilled on the beach with a few snacks and some drinks just relaxing and have a laugh with friends, occasionally dancing to the music that was on in the background.
We got to watch people jump over fire, some were crazy high and I have no idea how shorts didn’t catch alight and others a 5 year old could jump over. As it got closer to midnight, we had to write a wish on a piece of paper and burn it before running backwards into the sea. This represents making a wish for the next year and cleansing your spirit in the ocean makes it come true. Now due to some team drama (as always) I didn’t end up any wish so whatever I would’ve wished for I guess will not come true this year. However, I did have a little paddle in the ocean at midnight so my soul is cleansed… Or at least my feet. It was crazy the amount of people running backwards into the sea at midnight was crazy. Four men even carried a statue of San Juan down from the local church and into the sea, to touch it gave you good look.
The celebrations went on well into the early hours but we left not long after midnight. It was a fantastic night and great to experience a local celebration, it’s always amazing to see how a community comes together and also how different locations celebrate things. Although this is a Spanish fiesta and you expect it to be the same everywhere, Tenerife was of complete contrast to Mallorca last summer. If you’re ever in the reef around Noche de San Juan, I’d highly recommend popping down a don joining in the fun.
All opinions are my own and just that: opinions.
This blog post is not sponsored or endorsed in any way.