It´s May, the time of year that xestas blossom but a xesta is more than a bush for many locals. If you are walking Portuguese camino, you will see it everywhere even on local car bumpers.
Maybe you already know that indeed a xesta is the common broom or Scotch broom. It is a kind of bush that has vivid yellow pea-like flowers, its blooming is profuse and very show. However, a xesta is also an amulet or charm for many Galician and Portuguese people. It is supposed to be effective against evil eye. That´s why on 1st May people from Rias Baixas and villages of Pontevedra hurry for placing a xesta branch/twig on their cars bumpers, boats, shops, front doors or windows.
Besides, Galician houses are swept with xestas on Saint John´s day (on 24th June) to purify and protect them against evil spirits.
On the other hand, the yellow flower of a xesta is also a flower of lovers. Traditionally boys give their beloved a bouquet or a twig and if she accepted the declaration of love, she should tie the little twig around her ring finger.
It is likely that you come across with a Maio festival if you are walking the Portuguese camino. It consists on a festival which welcomes this month. Locals, especially children, usually make a cone with flowers (xestas included) and they sing and dance around it.
Traditions are interesting and observe what happens around you on your Camino is part of you pilgrimage, don´t miss it!
Written by Camino Travel Center.
Highly recommended byHOSTAL GAU TXORI: comfortable accommodation, nice and traditional food and a wonderful natural landscape in Zubiri.