Monday, June 23, 2014

El Cacho de San Xoan

It´s San Juan again.  The most poplar activities associated with this holiday are leaping over bonfires and then taking a dip in the ocean, or roasting and eating sardines.  But there is another, less well known pre-christian tradition, making a preparation called el cacho made from seven herbs and water from seven springs, used to banish witches. 

Tradition dictates that during the June 23, the eve of San Juan, the Galicians collected seven different herbs with three basic qualities: they must have a special smell, multiple applications in medicinal remedies and be the best to drive away evil beings.
Although poss
ibilities are many, the seven traditionally are fennel-called Fiuncho, St. John's wort, lemon verbena, male-fern or Fento, rosemary, mallow and laburnum.
Along with these herbs water from seven different natural sources is collected and
everything mixed in a bowl to make the cacho, which used to remove the devil from the body, ward off witches and cure envy.

After being left outside all night to collect dew, the scented, green cacho is used to wash on San Juan, and after air-drying, guaranteed a healthy year and the absence of witches.  After San Juan, the herbs are left in the sun to steep further and the resulting infusion used throughout the year in home remedies.  Others gather the herbs and hang them over the door, or burn them on the bonfires.

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