The Camino de Santiago, a millennia-old journey filled with history, mystery, and devotion, also encompasses lesser-known rituals that deepen the pilgrim experience. In this article, we invite you to discover those hidden traditions that have accompanied walkers under the starry sky. 

From simple gestures loaded with symbolism to traditions rooted in the heart of local culture, these rituals add a layer of depth and spiritual connection to the journey. Get ready to explore secrets of the path that you may never have imagined.


The Embroidery of the Scallop Shell: Personalising the Pilgrim’s Credential

The pilgrim’s credential serves not only as a necessary document to certify the journey along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela but also as a personal canvas to capture memories, feelings, and of course, symbolisms

Among these, the embroidery of the scallop shell stands out for its deep connection to the Jacobean tradition. It represents protection, guidance, and the infinite path of stars that, according to legend, guided the first pilgrims to the tomb of the Apostle Santiago.

This practice offers a unique opportunity to personalise the credential, turning it into a unique and deeply meaningful piece. Travel companies for the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, like ours, are aware of this added value and often facilitate pilgrims the possibility of embroidering this symbol.


Singing in the Cistercian Monastery of Samos: A Musical Connection with History

Among the most evocative traditions of the French Way is the singing in the Cistercian Monastery of Samos, a ritual that immerses pilgrims in an atmosphere of peace and spiritual reflection. 

This monastery, very close to Sarria and with centuries of history, becomes the setting for a practice that connects walkers with the cultural and religious legacy of the path through music. Gregorian chant, performed by the monks, resonates in the ancient walls of the cloister, creating a moment of intimate communion between the present and the past.

Both for those about to set off and for those already on the journey, it offers an emotional respite, reconnecting them with the tranquillity and historical depth of their journey. 


Throwing a Stone at the Iron Cross

Another of the most emblematic traditions of the French Way is the act of throwing a stone at the foot of the Iron Cross. This gesture, loaded with symbolism, involves pilgrims in a practice of liberation and renewal. 

The stone, brought from the pilgrim’s place of origin, symbolises the weight of worries, fears, or desires that accompany them on their journey. By placing it in this sacred spot, pilgrims are believed to shed these burdens, asking for strength to continue their journey or in gratitude for challenges overcome.

The accumulation of stones around the Iron Cross creates a visually impressive monument that represents the hopes, dreams, and struggles of thousands of pilgrims who have passed through. This act is not only an expression of faith and hope but also connects travellers with the global pilgrim community, leaving a physical mark of their passage along the Camino de Santiago.


The Bath in the Waters of Muxía: Spiritual Renewal and Cleansing in a Lesser-Visited Place

Once you finish the organised French Way from Sarria, you can continue and make a pilgrimage to Muxía, a place of profound spiritual significance. Here, tradition invites you to immerse yourself in the waters of the Atlantic as an act of renewal and purification. 

This bath is not just an act of bravery in the face of the ocean’s cold but a rite of passage that symbolises the cleansing of sorrows, fatigue, and worries accumulated along the way.

The waters of Muxía, known for their wild beauty and connection with legends of shipwrecks and Marian apparitions, offer the pilgrim a moment of introspection and connection with nature. This bathing ritual becomes a closing experience, where old burdens are left behind, and the spirit is renewed to return home light-hearted.


Planting a Tree in the Forest of Pilgrims

A lesser-known but deeply significant tradition is the planting of a tree in the Forest of Pilgrims.

This act symbolises the personal contribution to the growth and renewal of the path, leaving a living and lasting mark over time. Each tree planted becomes part of a growing ecosystem, representing the hopes, dreams, and resilient spirit of the pilgrims.

In addition to its spiritual symbolism, this practice promotes ecological awareness and sustainability, emphasising the importance of caring for the natural environments that surround the Camino. 


The Offering to the Sea in A Guarda: A Ritual of Gratitude and Farewell on the Portuguese Way

A highlight and real moment for pilgrims travelling the stretch from Tui to Santiago de Compostela along the Portuguese Way is the offering to the sea in A Guarda. This act symbolises gratitude for the completed journey and a request for good fortune for the final stretch to Santiago.

At the mouth of the river Miño, pilgrims stop to throw a stone or personal object into the sea, representing the release of emotional and physical burdens accumulated during the journey. This gesture of release and gratitude, facing the vast waters, reinforces the pilgrim’s connection with the universe and the sense of community with other travellers who have shared their stories and hopes along this ancient path.


The Secret Chapel of Apparitions in Padrón: An Intimate Encounter on the Portuguese Way

A less publicised but deeply significant moment on the Portuguese Way occurs in Padrón, a town famous for its connection with the arrival of the Apostle Santiago in Spain. Hidden from many, the Chapel of Apparitions is a place of retreat where pilgrims can experience a moment of quiet and spiritual reflection.

Pilgrims making the journey from Tui to Santiago de Compostela discover this place and often leave their written petitions or thanks, thus joining a tradition of faith and hope that transcends generations. 


Leaving Wooden Crosses

The tradition of leaving wooden crosses along the Northern Way, as well as on other routes, symbolises a deeply rooted spiritual and devotional practice in Christian pilgrimages. This gesture represents a variety of personal intentions, from requests for protection and guidance to acts of thanks or the desire to leave behind personal burdens. 

The crosses are placed in significant points along the path, marking not only the pilgrim’s physical passage but also their spiritual and personal journey.