On June 24, Puerto Rico celebrates San Juan Bautista’s birthday, becoming this famous event an all day festivity that begins on June 23 at the beach.
The Spaniards officially named the island San Juan, renaming it Puerto Rico (Rich Port) to avoid confusion with Old San Juan. As the Saint patron of the country, every year, his birthday is celebrated with all kinds of festivities.
Accordingly to the legend, La Noche de San Juan Bautista is magical because the waters of Puerto Rico have special powers. It is the only day of the year you shouldn’t skip jumping into the ocean if you happen to be there.
As people gather on the beach, right at midnight, everybody jumps into the sea, asking Saint Joseph to bring good luck and prosperity into their lives.
The following day performances of salsa, merengue, reggaeton and bachata music, as well as religious processions of San Juan Bautista take place in different cities of the island.
There are diverse superstitions of how many times you should go swimming to make sure you will have good luck throughout the rest of the year. While some people believe you should do it seven times, others insist it is necessary to do it 12 times. Whether you do 3 round turns; jumping into the water backward might be perfect. In my opinion, the faith you put into it determines if your wish will come true or not.
Thousands of years ago, the Aborigines practiced a ritual to honor the sun for giving their crops the minerals to harvest their goods. Since summer solstice begins on June 22, the day when the sun is the closest to earth, building bonfires to symbolize the sun was a sacred rite used as a symbol of purification by the Archaics.
When the Spaniards colonized Puerto Rico, instead of prohibiting this ritual, they incorporated it in their Christian practices. Saint Joseph was the prophet who began the rite of christening, as a means of purifying the spirit. Within the years, this religious custom evolved, becoming San Juan Bautista’s celebration a traditional day in the culture of the island.
The legend also claims that Roberto Cofresí’s coffin floats in the ocean that day. He was a local pirate, who was hung in Old San Juan for his crimes. He became the Puerto Rican Robin Hood, who stole from the rich to help the poor. Many people claim they have seen his coffin in the ocean that evening.
For those who believe in magic, getting into the ocean is considered an excellent ritual for healing and uplifting your energy. Thousands of people gather at the beach, going some people just for the party, but if you want to connect with your indigenous antecedents and experience the magical waters of Puerto Rico, you must remember to expect the miracles granted on the night of San Juan Bautista.