The host recites incantation and sets the bowl of punch on fire. She’s warding off evil spirits and inviting good fortune. After the alcohol burns in a brilliant blue flame, she ladles the queimada into cordial glasses.
You take a drink, tasting the caramelized sugar and lemon peel, the earthy coffee beans, and the heat of orujo brandy. Your first sip banishes evil spirits, your second clears your mind of hate, and your third fills your soul with passion.
Queimada is a traditional punch of Galicia, Spain, and the ritual surrounding its consumption is known as conxuro da queimada (“the spell of queimada”). While the drink’s origin is unknown, it draws from the cultures of Celtic Druids, the Moors, and Spanish colonies in South America.
Galicians perform the ritual at events like weddings or dinner parties. If you can’t get an invite to either, visit Galicia in June or October: There are queimada performances on Halloween, which is derived from the Celtic holiday of Samhain, and St. John’s Night (also known as Witches’ Night) on June 23.
Need to Know
Performers in full Druid priest regalia recite queimada spells and set bowls of punch aflame in the streets of Galicia on Halloween and St. John's Night. There are several websites with instructions on how to conduct your own conxuro da queimada at home. If you do so, make sure to use a clay pot or similar bowl for your fiery punch.
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