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Monday, June 23, 2008

Midsummer Night's Eve or Noche de San Juan

Tonight is Midsummer Night's Eve in Spain, called Noche de San Juan, and it is always celebrated June 23rd, no matter when the exact summer solstice falls in the calendar.

It's a night of long pagan, historical and mystical traditions, a night that is currently celebrated with bonfires on the beaches ... bonfires in which wooden or paper maché dolls are burned for good luck ... bonfires that some people leap over in order to cleanse and purify themselves ... bonfires that others use to burn paper on which something from which they wish to become purified has been written ... a night that some walk into the sea in order to purify themselves that way ... a night during which something that no longer has a room in a person's life can be released in order to give start to the new.

Here is a brief video from this website that writes much about the southern part of Spain called Andalucia. In the video some of the typical festivities that take place can be viewed. If for some reason you can not play the video, click here to go directly to the website where it is located.

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I enjoy this night every year. I enjoy the manner in which it unites me to beliefs from other epochs, I enjoy the pure joy of the people on the beaches celebrating this night with their entire families ... don't forget that the bonfires are not lit until midnight, and hence, even small children are there until well into the morning hours.

Normally much music is also being played to celebrate the occasion, typically flamenco music, sometimes special horses who are trained to move to the sound of flamenco music are also on the beach. Believe in all these things or not ... it is a special night that is embued with the flavor and mystery of other times. It is also a time for contemplation and reflection on what has been and what no longer is.

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