Las Hogueras - The Spanish Solstice Celebration

The solstices are celebrated in Spain with large bonfires. Image by Taller de Imagen (TDI)/Cover/Getty Images

Spain is typically known as a very Catholic country, and the celebration of Christmas, or Navidad (it's also sometimes referred to as Natividad), is a pretty big deal. Navidad festivities begin in early December, and continue until the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6.

What many people don’t know is that there is also a celebration of the winter solstice that takes place each year in Spain, which pre-dates Christianity.

In a few larger Spanish cities,as well as in more rural areas, the festival of Las Hogueras (the bonfires) is observed. Very little information is available about the origins of Las Hogueras. Bonfires are lit in the plazas of each town, and residents run and jump over the flames, believing that doing so will protect them from illness in the coming year. Flame-jumping appears to be most popular in the city of Grenada.

Tereña is a Pagan who lives in a small town near Grenada. She says, “No one really knows where the tradition of Las Hogueras comes from, but in our town it’s a giant celebration. We know that fire is cleansing and transformative. The Catholics say that fire will burn away their sins. When we jump over the bonfires of Las Hogueras, there is a transformation and cleansing, whether we’re Catholics or Pagans. It makes us feel like we are protected from anything that may come.”

Interestingly, in many parts of Spain, most notably in the city of Alicante, there is a summertime version of this celebration as well – Las Hogueras de San Juan.

This begins on the summer solstice, and ends on June 24, the day of the feast of St. John the Baptist.

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Wigington, Patti. "Las Hogueras - The Spanish Solstice Celebration." ThoughtCo, Dec. 3, 2016, Wigington, Patti. (2016, December 3). Las Hogueras - The Spanish Solstice Celebration. Retrieved from Wigington, Patti. "Las Hogueras - The Spanish Solstice Celebration." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 11, 2017).