Noche de San Juan (Night of St. John)

The night of the 23rd to the 24th, Bolivia will celebrate the Noche de San Juan (Night of St. John) it’s a very ancient tradition which is celebrated in many parts of Europe and Latin America, and is an established event in Bolivia, this is a tradition brought to the country by the Spanish colonist; in the northern hemisphere Noche de San Juan celebrated the shortest night of the year and the arrival of summer; while here in Bolivia it was adapted to celebrate the coldest night of the year and the arrival of winter. The traditional way to celebrate this event consisted in bonfires where fire wood and old furniture where burned on the city streets. Families and friends gathered together around the bonfires to celebrate the coldest night of the year. The bonfires were accompanied by heartily food, “ponche” (alcoholic beverage, served hot), music, dance and a lot of fireworks. In modern times and due to ecological concerns authorities have banned the practice of setting on fire wood and old furniture, but the party and the family reunion continues to live on. In small towns and remote areas of the country bonfires are still lit on San Juan Night.

In the modern version of Noche de San Juan, the party has also met the modern life, been carried out in clubs, bars and discotheques as well. It’s a well publicized event around Bolivia, just ask you’re hotel concierge or taxi driver for a good San Juan Night party and they will give you good tips on how to get to one. Music, dance, hot dogs and ponche are a big part of the party and off course fireworks. If you are in Bolivia on the 23rd don’t miss out the opportunity of been part this great tradition.

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