8 Unique Camino Rituals
Rituals and traditions established by pilgrims in medieval times have continued to the present day. In celebration of these wonderful Camino de Santiago traditions, we want to share a few of our favourite unique Camino rituals.
From the classic pilgrim greeting to iconic stops along the Camino routes, there are many rituals to explore. As you read this article it’s also worth thinking about your favourite Camino de Santiago rituals and traditions. If you’d like to share them with others, please do leave a comment below – we’d love to read about your favourite Camino traditions.
Here are a few of our favourite Camino Rituals from over the years:
1. Stamping your pilgrim passport
Also known as the ‘credencial’, stamping your pilgrim passport is part of everyday life on the Camino. It maps the pilgrim’s journey and reminds you of each of the stops along the way. If you want to receive your composela at the end of your Camino, make sure to stamp your passport along the way.
2. A sip of Rioja
Although a modern development (though we aren’t ones to say no to a delicious glass of vino), taking a sip of Rioja wine at the wine fountain of Bodegas Irache, just outside Estella on the Camino Frances, has become another unique Camino ritual for pilgrims.
3. A memento at Cruz de Ferro
Cruz de Ferro, the Iron Cross, is often mentioned by pilgrims as one of those special places on the Camino. Most pilgrims take a few minutes to pause at this humble monument, deposit a memento on the mountain of pebbles left by other pilgrims or simply reflect on the journey and think about their loved ones.
4. Wash at Lavacolla – one of the oldest Camino rituals
The stream at Lavacolla, just outside Santiago, used to be the spot where pilgrims washed and got ready to enter Santiago de Compostela and its cathedral. This is probably one of the oldest Camino rituals we know of.
5. Pilgrim Mass
Pilgrim’s Mass takes place every day at noon in Santiago de Compostela cathedral. It is a very special moment for most pilgrims, having finally reached their destination after a long journey. If you are lucky, you might see the impressive ‘botafumeiro‘ in action. Another tradition at the Cathedral is hugging St James.
6. The Compostela
The Compostela certificate is your pilgrim certificate and is proof that you have walked at least the last 100km to Santiago or cycled at least the last 200km. This certificate (along with many others) is issued by the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago.
7. Swim in Fisterra
Although most pilgrims finish their Camino in Santiago de Compostela, thousands each year continue to Fisterra, by the Atlantic Ocean, considered the very last stop of the Camino de Santiago. A Camino ritual that is highly recommended and eco-friendly is going for a swim in Fisterra’s Langosteira beach. Watching the sunset over the Atlantic has also become a Camino ritual. You have reached the very end of the Camino!
8. Say the famous “Buen Camino!”
While on the Camino, don’t forget to wish fellow pilgrims ‘Buen Camino!’ or ‘Ultreia‘ as you pass them on your way. It will fill you and your fellow pilgrims with a sense of community. Have a safe journey!