CAMPO DE GIBRALTAR The Night of Saint John (the Baptist), celebrated in Spain on the night of June 23, is a very ancient festivity with origins in paganism. There is a connection, say some experts, with the Summer Solstice, which also involves bonfires. The Northern Hemisphere's celebration of the solstice with fire is 'to give the sun more strength', which from then on was diminishing (days get shorter until the Winter Solstice). Fire also has a 'cleansing' effect in many cultures. The closeness in time of the Summer Solstice (June 20-21) and Saint John's Day (June 24) may be a matter of mere coincidence, although experts doubt this, the ancient Christian Church being very adept at adapting otherwise pagan rites and customs to its own purposes. In the Campo de Gibraltar, the Noche de San Juan is held on the night of June 23 and celebrated all over,>>>
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principally with great bonfires on the beaches. Most of the fires are topped by juanillos (little Johns), which are not unlike the Guys of British Guy Fawkes tradition. We are told that it is also a good idea to write down one's wishes on a piece of (preferably) white paper and put into the flames to ensure that they come true - but we've never tried that, so we call it 'an unconfirmed report'. Part of the 'rites' also involve dipping into the water, if not fully, at least the feet - the purpose of this is unclear, though.
Celebrations are often accompanied by fireworks and/or live music. In Algeciras, the fires are lit at the two main beaches, El Rinconcillo and Getares. Los Barrios holds its own bonfire on the sand at Palmones, though another one is lit on the main square at Los Cortijillos, which happens to be called Plaza San Juan.
San Roque lights this year's bonfire on the Torreguadiaro beach, which is visible and well attended by Sotogrande residents. Tarifa is almost all beach, so you can't miss the fire there - nor the DJ music - but just in case, the main activity is in the Los Lances area known as Playa Chica.
La Linea holds it own celebration on the Levante beach (the Eastern side of the Rock), while the two inland municipalities, Jimena and Castellar leave it to their seaward neighbours, to where most of the population of these two places head for anyway.