Each autumn, every region in Spain has its own take on the Castañada (aka Castanyada) Festival. In Galicia, it is known as the Magosto (aka El Magusto) Festival, an ancient pagan celebration that marks the passage from summer to fall. Locals and tourists alike gather to eat, dance, sing and generally delight in the harvest. In particular one experience is unique, when all party-goers concoct the traditional Galician drink, “Queimada,” and revel in what some might consider a rather spooky – but undoubtedly entertaining – ritual.
Queimada is a typical Spanish drink of Galicia, which also has a history to it, as it is thought to come from an old Celtic tradition. Part of the custom is that all the ingredients (Galician spirit, sugar, lemon peel, coffee beans and sometimes cinnamon) are put in a clay pot and are then set alight whilst everyone around it chants a traditional song. As it is served hot, it is ideal for cold evenings or winter parties.
Watch the ritual incantation below:
According to legend, as the queimada is blended, the spell is shared among all in attendance, resulting magically in an infusion of special qualities to the drink – which then is drunk – empowering those who imbibe. At that mystical point, the queimada is ignited, lazily burning a beautiful blue, as can be seen below:
Although the tradition has been handed down across multiple generations, some believe the Queimada was actually developed in the 1950s. Historically, we know that Queimada has its roots in the pagan observations and rituals of Galicia, all with the intentions to ward off witches and likewise evil entities. Today, the ritual has become so common and widespread that we see variations of it across the entirety of Spain as well as in Portugal, some of Europe, and even other locations around the world.
Mouchos, curuxas, sapos e bruxas.
Demos, trasgos e diaños, espíritos das neboadas veigas.
Corvos, píntegas e meigas: feitizos das menciñeiras.
Podres cañotas furadas, fogar dos vermes e alimañas.
Lume das Santas Compañas, mal de ollo, negros meigallos, cheiro dos mortos, tronos e raios.
Ouveo do can, pregón da morte; fuciño do sátiro e pé do coello.
Pecadora lingua da mala muller casada cun home vello.
Averno de Satán e Belcebú, lume dos cadáveres ardentes, corpos mutilados dos indecentes, peidos dos infernais cus, muxido da mar embravecida.
Barriga inútil da muller solteira, falar dos gatos que andan á xaneira, guedella porca da cabra mal parida.
Con este fol levantarei as chamas deste lume que asemella ao do Inferno, e fuxirán as bruxas a cabalo das súas vasoiras, índose bañar na praia das areas gordas.
¡Oíde, oíde! os ruxidos que dan as que non poden deixar de queimarse no augardente quedando así purificadas.
E cando este beberaxe baixe polas nosas gorxas, quedaremos libres dos males da nosa alma e de todo embruxamento.
Forzas do ar, terra, mar e lume, a vós fago esta chamada: se é verdade que tendes máis poder que a humana xente, eiquí e agora, facede que os espíritos dos amigos que están fóra, participen con nós desta Queimada.
Owls, barn owls, toads and witches.
Demons, goblins and devils, spirits of the misty vales.
Crows, salamanders and witches, charms of the folk healers.
Rotten pierced canes, home of worms and vermin.
Wisps of the Holy Company, evil eye, black witchcraft, scent of the dead, thunder and lightning.
Howl of the dog, omen of death, maws of the satyr and foot of the rabbit.
Sinful tongue of the bad woman married to an old man.
Satan and Beelzebub’s Inferno, fire of the burning corpses, mutilated bodies of the indecent ones, farts of the asses of doom, bellow of the enraged sea.
Useless belly of the unmarried woman, speech of the cats in heat, dirty turf of the wicked born goat.
With this bellows I will pump the flames of this fire which looks like that from Hell, and witches will flee, straddling their brooms, going to bathe in the beach of the thick sands.
Hear! Hear the roars of those that cannot stop burning in the firewater, becoming so purified.
And when this beverage goes down our throats, we will get free of the evil of our soul and of any charm.
Forces of air, earth, sea and fire, to you I make this call: if it’s true that you have more power than people, here and now, make the spirits of the friends who are outside, take part with us in this Queimada.
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