The Night of San Juan, also known as the Fiesta de San Juan, is the Christian celebration of the birth of John the Baptist commemorated annually on June 24. It is the first holiday after the summer solstice (June 21) that welcomes the summer season in the northern hemisphere.

Who was Saint John the Baptist?

He was a prophet who lived in Israel at the same time as Jesus and to whom he was apparently related. John the Baptist is not only recognized in Christianity, he is also considered a prophet in Islam and other minor religions. He performed the baptism of men as the way of preparation for the arrival of the Messiah whom he would later baptize. Given the depth of his prophecies, he had a significant number of disciples, some of whom would later become disciples of Jesus. He made strong questions to King Herod and his Court, which is why he was arrested and later beheaded.

Adaptation of Pagan Festivals

However, the celebrations for the beginning of summer are prehistoric. Since ancient times, peoples have had the tradition of celebrating the arrival of the sun with countless acts, many of them religious. In various parts of the world the sun was considered a deity, so it was worshiped especially when the arrival of summer took place. Both in ancient Egypt and in aboriginal peoples of America, carnivals were held that could last for several days, they carried out rituals such as lighting large bonfires with which they sought to further fan the flames of the sun, along with offerings and sacrifices to commemorate the festivity. Summer meant a new stage for the land, crops and better harvests. What the church did was adopt this pagan celebration and give it a Christian meaning,

How is the Night of San Juan celebrated in the world?

This is a celebration that has a greater impact in countries with a Catholic tradition in Europe, where nights full of lights, carnivals and parades are witnessed. Large bonfires and fireworks are traditional, and in some regions rag dolls are burned and the rivers are illuminated with colored lights. The Night of San Juan is usually the shortest night of the year in the northern hemisphere, which is why some towns continue the celebration for the following days and nights. It also marks the beginning of the holidays giving greater joy to the celebration.

In some Latin American countries the Feast of San Juan is also commemorated, many of them as patron saint festivities and with religious acts. Contrary to what happens in the north, in the southern hemisphere the winter solstice begins, this means that the celebrations are not so festive, however, there is room for the traditional bonfire along with typical dances; in some countries with indigenous descent they perform rituals around campfires and take the opportunity to make simbras evoking ancestral customs.

Días Festivos en el Mundo