Queimada is a punch made from Galician augardente (Orujo Gallego) – a spirit distilled from wine and flavoured with special herbs or coffee, plus sugar, lemon peel, coffee beans and cinnamon. It is traditionally prepared in a hollow pumpkin. Queimada is now part of the Galician tradition and considered as a sign of Galician identity.
The goal of the preparation ritual is to distance the bad spirits that, according with the tradition, lie in wait for men and women to try to curse them. All occasions are good for a queimada: a party, familiar meetings or gatherings of friends. After dinner, in the darkness of night, is one of the best times for it. The tradition also says that one of the perfect days to make the “conxuro da queimada” (spell of queimada) is in Samhain, the Celtic New Year’s Eve. However, typically the Queimada ritual takes place during St. John’s night or ‘witches’ night’ on the 23rd of June.
The people who take part in it gather around the container where it is prepared, ideally without lights, to cheer up the hearts and to be better friends. One of them ends the process of making the queimada while reciting the spell holding up the burning liquid in a ladle and pouring it slowly back into the container.