Happy Holidays & Buen Camino!

May you keep this day sacred and find peace in your hearts throughout the year.

Celebrating Saint James Day

The Apostle James, the reason for the Camino pilgrimage, is celebrated throughout the world on July 25th, his designated saint’s day.  In Santiago de Compostela, Saint James is honored in a spectacular way on July 24th, with fireworks and a multimedia show in the Praza do Obradoiro. Below are some photos of this year’s show, courtesy of Robert Anderson, pilgrim from South Africa.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Check out this mesmerizing video:

Robert and Darren Combrink are currently walking to Finisterre to complete their epic Camino and fundraiser for Walking For Life.  Bravo guys! Buen Camino!

Meanwhile, closer to home

All over America, pilgrims celebrate St. James Day in different ways. Bay Area pilgrims started on Saturday, July 21st with an urban Camino in San Francisco. The 12-mile trek began near Ocean Beach and continued through the Sunset neighborhood on Santiago Street, up to Mt. Davidson (SF’s highest peak), through the Mission district to St. James church for a mass and pilgrim blessing. We ended the day with tapas, paella, and sangria at at Spanish restaurant. Here’s the video created with MapMyHike and Relive Apps:

For those who missed it, you can follow our footsteps and do this walk any time. And this coming weekend is when he church is actually celebrating Saint James Day!
July 28, noon – 3 pm meditation stations.
July 29, 10:30 mass, followed by BBQ.  Here’s a snapshot of the bulletin announcement.

Saint James Catholic Church is located at: Guerrero St & 23rd St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Feast of Saint James Day Potluck & Blessing

On Wednesday, July 25th, our NorCal APOC chapter hosted a Feast of St. James Potluck at Corpus Christi church in Piedmont, with a presentation about Saint James and a blessing for departing pilgrims. I wanted to have a special event in the East Bay, and my parish was the perfect place to have it. The church is located on Saint James Drive, after all!

Double click on photos below to see larger version and read captions.

Message from American Pilgrims on the Camino

Below you will find a message from the APOC Board of Directors:

Happy St. James’ Feast Day!

As you may know, today is the Feast of St. James’ Day, a very special day celebrated all over Spain. Throughout Galicia in particular, there are parades, special foods and meals, and commemorative Masses and ceremonies in the beautiful churches along the Way. And in Santiago, the pilgrim community, which is normally characterized by genuine joy, is even more jubilant!

We at American Pilgrims on the Camino have been supporting the improvement and rebuilding of Camino facilities and infrastructure for many years, by awarding grants to Spanish, French, and Portuguese organizations; this year alone, we made $30,000 in grants to projects along the Camino! The American Pilgrims grant program is a tangible demonstration of our mission of fostering the enduring tradition of the Camino and has helped to support the ever-increasing number of pilgrims that travel the different routes to Santiago. This program is solely possible through member support.

We invite you to join American Pilgrims on the Camino and become part of these lovely contributions to the Camino community. By joining today you will always remember your “anniversary date of belonging” is July 25, the Feast of St. James’ Day. You can start enjoying the benefits and pride of belonging right away.

To join, simply visit http://www.americanpilgrims.org/join-renew.

¡Buen Camino!


On a previous St. James Day post, I shared an overview of how the festival is celebrated in Santiago and a Tarta de Santiago recipe.

13627171_10105532995025423_1674422263543695398_nPilgrims, How do you celebrate St. James Day?

St. James Day + Tarta de Santiago Recipe

Today is July 25th, St. James Day, and that means it’s time for the largest festival in Santiago de Compostela. Below is an overview from CaminoWays of how the festival is celebrated in Santiago. I’ve also included an easy recipe for Galicia’s favorite dessert, Tarta de Santiago, a delicious cake made with almond flour. Continue reading

Merry Christmas

Camino Shell On Christmas TreeThings are extra festive this year in my corner of the world. We decorated our home and have a big Christmas tree because family has converged on the Bay Area this year instead of us visiting them. There’s a new ornament on the treea plain and simple scallop shell that I will carry with me on my first Camino in May.

I am feeling so much joy and appreciation for the season that I just want to share a few of my favorite things. Like John Cusack in  High Fidelity, I can’t resist a good top-five list either. So, without further ado, my Christmas Top Five Favorites! Continue reading

Opting Outside with REI

REI just gave us another reason to be loyal customers. Today on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year in America, all REI stores are closed. The CEO made the announcement about a month ago with the idea that REI employees deserve a paid day off to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle that the company promotes. It has caused a ripple effect across the nation with state parks waiving their entrance fees for the day.

REI has been encouraging people to share photos of them doing something outside on Black Friday instead of shopping, and posting it with the hashtag #OptOutside. Check out optoutside.rei.com  and add your own photo to the gallery. They make it easy to layer their “stamp” over a photo and share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or email. See mine below.

My Black Friday "Opting Outside" by taking a walk in the snow with the dogs

My Black Friday “Opt Outside” started by taking a walk in the snow with the dogs

It appears this brilliant idea has taken over the Twittersphere – The #OptOutside hashtag is trending more than #BlackFriday!

Of course, REI online is always open, and you can get great Camino gear and clothing 24-7 from REI.com.  But take a moment to do something outside today and share your photo along with 1.1 million people (and counting!) who joined REI in this campaign to #OptOutside.

Buen Camino!

PS- The Camino Provides T-Shirt I’m wearing below will be available soon. I ordered samples and am making sure the quality is something I would wear and recommend. I will offer two designs and different styles for men and women at a low cost.
Wearing my new Camino Provides T-Shirt   With Annie O'Neil at the screening of Phil's Camino

Camino Provides T-Shirts

Camino Provides T-Shirt

Halloween in Spain

Curious about Halloween in Spain? I am too. I found some interesting traditions in this article:

Halloween in Spain

Better known as El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead or All Souls Day), Halloween in Spain is a three-day celebration that kicks off on October 31st with Dia de las Brujas (Day of the Witches), continues with Dia de Todos los Santos (All Saints Day) on November 1st, and culminates with Dia de los Muertos on November 2nd.

Far from being a commercial holiday, the Spanish Halloween is all about honoring the dead and celebrating the continuity of life. Accordingly, specific customs and rituals can be observed throughout the country, most of them similar with those in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking nations. For instance, during the Dia de Todos los Santos, which is a public holiday, many families tend to gather at the grave of their deceased relatives with holly water, flowers, food and drink in order to rejoice and socialize.

Halloween in Galicia  

In Northern Spain, due to the Celtic traditions that still prevail in the area, Halloween is celebrated with more enthusiasm than in the rest of the country. In Galicia, a region famous for its rich local folklore and ghost legends, the night of 31st of October is known as Noite dos Calacús (Night of the Pumpkins) and is celebrated through a range of common activities such as pumpkin carving, costume parties, bonfires, rituals and sometimes even trick-or-treating. A special feature of Halloween in Galicia is the quemada – a strong alcoholic drink usually made from aguardiente, unground coffee, sugar and lemon rind or orange peels. Traditionally, the quemada is prepared within a pumpkin and consumed after reciting a spell (esconxuro).

Learn more.

I am happy to see that Halloween seems to have caught on! Here’s another look:

Continue reading