Friday, June 24, 2016

Saint John's Summer Solstice Celebration

It's 2:51 Friday morning, 24 June, the day the Christian Church designated as the Feast Day of Saint John the Baptist.

It didn't start out that way. Before the Christians decided to "de-paganize" the day, it was called Midsummer, the pagan celebration of the summer solstice. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits.

Following this ancient tradition, bonfires have been burning all night on our beaches in honor of St. John's Eve. Revellers have been heavily drinking spirits (which may protect against evil ones; I don't know).

At midnight, everyone quickly dashed in and out of the water and then hopped over the bonfires three times. The intention is to drive off witches and evil spirits (I guess that's if the booze doesn't work). Then came the fireworks.

OUR BEACH IN THE AFTERNOON: THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME.
AT 9:00 P.M., THE PARTY HADN'T YET STARTED.
The chiringuito (beach bar) nearest to us added additional serving areas on the Paseo and on the beach. They had an exceptionally good band performing the most of the night. For the past one or two hours (I've lost track), it's been pre-recorded music at twice the decibel level. We should get some sleep when the party officially ends (any minute now).

Meanwhile, I've finished off the top layer of chocolates, so I'm not complaining (although I may be complaining later about that).

It's 3:04 Friday morning and the music has stopped. The silence is deafening. I'm off to bed.

ON OUR WAY HOME FROM DINNER AROUND 11:15.
TOASTED BUNS AND BEER.
NOTE THE BAND MEMBER
IN THE "OREGON'S PORTLAND" T-SHIRT.
HOME: STROBE LIGHTS AND MUSIC AIMED IN OUR DIRECTION.
FIRE ON THE BEACH AND IN THE SKY.
THE MOON ROSE JUST AS THE FIREWORKS STARTED.

26 comments:

  1. This day is HUGE in the province of Quebec here in Canada.....Fete de la Saint-Jean -Baptiste. I didn't realize it was celebrated in other parts of the world.
    Hope you got some sleep!!

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    1. Jim:
      While doing my reading I learned that many parts of the world have special traditions and celebrations around Midsummer (and Saint John's Day). About an hour of sleep Thursday night. Friday was miserable. Friday night was a bit better. Glad this only happens once a year. The only night of the year with booming music on the beach... until 3 a.m.!

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  2. I'm listening to Neil Young's: After the gold Rush as I read your post.
    "Well, I dreamed I saw the knights
    In armor coming,
    Saying something about a queen...."
    The juxtaposition of your world and mine are quite opposite to say the least. Reveling and carousing are just so foreign but I do enjoy your ability to draw me me in. Today is a day of reflection for me for my Dad died on this date in 1952. St. Jean Baptiste Day and my Dad was a Catholic, alas I was not. My Mom made sure of that. I do believe a good dance in the sand and guzzle or two would be appropriate. Cheers!R

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    1. Ron:
      Sending warm wishes and a full heart as I think of you on this anniversary. By the way, I had a guzzle (or two) in your honor Thursday night.

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  3. All those times I got drunk, then went swimming, and then fell over a bonfire three times and I never knew I was celebrating the Feast Day of Saint John the Baptist.

    I thought I was reveling in the Effects of Jose Cuervo.

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    1. Bob:
      Most of the bonfire-faller-over-ers here were also I'm sure simply revelling in the Effects of Jose Cuervo (San Jose).

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  4. If you asked a Brit "When is St John's Day? you can bet your last penny on it that 95% or more wouldn't have the foggiest. I already knew - but you'll have guessed that.

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    1. Raybeard:
      And I'm sure you grew up getting drunk, dancing, and jumping over bonfires as a young student of religion.

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  5. not celebrated in this country; the fireworks will happen on 4 July!

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    1. anne marie:
      No July 4 fireworks here, but we'll have them July 16 in honor of the Virgin of Carmen. It's always about a saint ... or a virgin.

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  6. Oh wow...this looks like an amazing celebration indeed :)

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    1. Optimistic:
      It was fun, although none of the neighbors (including us) are thrilled with music reverberating off the buildings until 3 a.m. At least it's only once a year.

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  7. There is a small Russian version of this -- Ivan Kupala -- at a park near us this weekend. The pagan roots are obvious -- men and women both wear flower wreaths on their heads, people jump the bonfires (small campfires, actually), there is a sort of Maypole and so on. I suspect the most popular event is the vodka tasting and judging. I am not sure if this takes place in conjunction with the fire-leaping ...

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    1. Michael:
      Someone filled with vodka getting too close to the fire could create an amazing fireworks display.

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  8. Oh Mitch! (In response to your comment above). You know me - and my past - only too well! I'll have to rely on you to shhhhhh!

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    1. Ray:
      My lips are sealed. I won't say another word about your lurid past. Well, OK. Starting now.

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  9. What is now the Canadian National anthem was written to be sung at a St Jean-Baptiste celebration. It was once a major national holiday for Canadians in Eastern Canada both French and English. Sadly it has become more of a regional festival now.

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    1. Willym:
      Even here, though the holiday itself is celebrated everywhere, it's not an official holiday in every town. In some towns, most stores and businesses are closed, in others it's business as usual. After the partying that went on around here Thursday night, I don't know how anyone got up for work Friday morning.

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  10. Mitchell it was a great party

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    1. Gosia:
      It was fun on the beach and the live music was excellent.

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  11. It must be interesting having a festival right outside your window.

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    1. Stephen:
      It is. Too bad the "unlive" music had to blare until 3 a.m. But the rest is great.

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  12. The summer solstice is not a cheery holiday here as it portends temperatures 40-47 degrees for a few months. Phooey to summer.

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    1. Spo:
      Thankfully, temps above 40 are rare down here on the beach... which is why there are so many people pouring in.

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  13. I would have enjoyed that celebration very much -- until about midnight! But as you say, only once a year makes it tolerable. The main nearby village (a 45 minute boat ride) is in the midst of its LobsterFest weekend, which is quite the to do, to celebrate the opening of lobster season. I am happy to be too far away to hear the revelries and am also happy to have some local lobster in my freezer. We will have our private lobster fest any day now. Cheers!

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