Verbena de San Juan: a tradition with fire, nocturnal baths and medicinal plants as protagonists

Bonfires, fireworks, firecrackers, night baths, dinner with family or friends, dancing and fun. The St. John's Evecelebrated on the evening of June 23, is a Christian holiday (the following day is commemorated as the feast day of San Juan Bautista). However, its most ancient origins go back long before Christianity and are linked to the summer solsticewhich takes place on June 21, in the northern hemisphere. The St. John's Eve is especially celebrated in Spain, but it is also celebrated in different countries in Europe and Latin America. Among the traditions of the St. John's Eve the lighting of bonfires, the moonlight baths and the collection of medicinal plants during that night considered magical.

The tradition of lighting bonfires is given symbolically by the "purifying" action that the fire had on the people who contemplated it. Ancient beliefs also said that the fire kept away witches and evil spirits throughout the year. Other theories say that the fire rite was to "give more strength to the sun" (let's remember that the St. John's Eve is the shortest of the year and that means that every day there will be less sunlight time until we reach the winter solstice).

The Celts and Iberians thought that the fountains were curative and believed that all the waters drunk that night were beneficial. These beliefs have survived to the present day in the form of the tradition of bathing naked in the river or in the sea.

Many of our ancestors used to go out into the forest and mountains to collect medicinal plants, since in a given time, they could not find them. magical night as that of San Juan the herbs acquired properties that cured everything and also chased away evil spirits. There was a belief that whoever picked the herb called verbena (Verbena officinalis) was cured of all evil. This is the origin of the name St. John's Eve. It is also called St. John's wort at hypericum (Hypericum perforatum), which is the flower par excellence of the summer solstice in the Mediterranean basin.

And as in any holiday, you can not miss sitting around a table to enjoy a hearty meal. But as our dietician-nutritionist Mónica Gutiérrez explains, for one day we can enjoy without thinking about the diet. You can easily compensate the next day with lighter meals (gazpacho or pineapple with chicken) or having fruit for dinner. However, if you think you are going to have a guilty conscience, you can take a dietary supplement such as the Plan E before the dinner of the St. John's Eveor Chitopuntia a little while after dessert. But relax, there are celebrations that aren't meant for counting calories!


[resum] [resumThe fire, the night baths and the collection of medicinal plants are traditions typical of the magical night of the Verbena de San Juan. It is a day to enjoy dinner with family and friends without counting calories.[/resume]