The celebration of the festival of Saint John commemorates the birth of Saint John the Baptist. This festival is actually the Christianization of the pagan summer solstice festival. In the northern hemisphere, after the longest day of the year, the sun begins to descend on the horizon and the days get shorter.
For centuries, the celebration of the eve of Saint John is surrounded by magic and superstition that permeate every corner of the Almeria geography, formally welcoming summer. The fervour for this festival is so great that the entire coastline of Almeria is illuminated that night with the light of the fire from the bonfires, making the silhouette of the province visible from the sky.
Prosperity and health for all
Although the people of Almeria are mostly devout Catholics, they follow this tradition of ancestral and pagan origin, making bonfires around which they gather, with the custom of jumping the embers and bathing on the beaches at midnight—or, at least, they wet your feet and face, under the belief that these actions will allow you to have more health and luck during the year.
In addition to water and fire, the main protagonist of this traditional festival is the smell of the embers, which flood every corner of the towns and cities of Almeria.
Family and friends often meet on the beaches and make their bonfires, jumping three times on the fire to drive away bad luck.
The occasion is propitious for burning old things as a symbol of purification, leaving the past behind and renewing oneself.
The coast of Almeria is full of fireworks, “moragas”, sardines, concerts, recitals, craft markets, and parties in each municipality to celebrate the summer solstice.
But the party is not only on the seashore; in many towns in the interior of the province of Almeria, such as Abla
, this night is known as the “water”, as the participants in the party pour water on each other to attract the abundance during the rest of the year. In other locations far from the coast, residents bathe in swimming pools or pools, making the water part of their rites of prosperity. Bonfires are also popular in the towns of the interior of Almeria, being especially known those of the Zorreras neighbourhood, in Huercal de Almeria
, and the popular festivals organized annually in Senes
Magic in the Cathedral of Almeria
The Cathedral of Almeria
becomes, for the night of Saint John, the centre of a mythical legend, according to which two characters will appear at midnight on that day: a small one dressed in white djellaba and another giant with dark skin and with a single eye, who will guide those who manage to see them to the disappeared Tower of Arcas, where the Moorish princess Galiana rests in her eternal lethargy.
According to legend, if one manages to enter the tower, one cannot make the slightest noise so that the princess does not wake up, and one will be able to see the great treasure composed of jewels and gold coins. One can even take some of those precious objects without being greedy; otherwise, the visitor will be imprisoned eternally, keeping company with the Moorish princess.