The night of São João is not only the shortest night of the year, the moment we give way to summer. The night of São João, in Porto, is the great celebration. We can find its origins in the pagan feast of Litha when the ancient pre-Christians celebrated the summer solstice. With the coming of Christianism, celebrations like this experienced a change in order to fit them into their calendar. This way, Litha became the night of São João.
However, there are some elements that survived the change, like the idea of fire as a purifier. Along the beaches, in Porto, you can see the people, who are brave enough, jumping over the bonfires. But, if you are just passing through, we recommend you stop at the centre of Porto, because there you find the authentic magic of São João.
Throughout the city, you will find places to buy a Super Bock, the best beer of the city, or a place to fill the stomach with a delicious bifana.
But if there is something typical, gastronomically speaking, on the São João night, they are the grilled sardines.
If you are coming to Porto, do not forget to buy a martelinho, a plastic toy hammer, with which you will hit in the head everyone you meet. Remember that you can also be the "victim", so, be prepared to laugh and have a good time. Perhaps, between blows and blows a beautiful friendship will be born!
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And if there is something magical that prevails, they are the so-called manjericos, basil plant pots with pieces of paper where requests are made to the saint. This is directly related to the importance that aromatic herbs had for pre-Romans, generally associated to medicinal herbs. With them, health, luck and fortune are sought, hoping that Saint John (São João) hears our requests.
So, do not hesitate, and visit this magnifico city at São João holiday!