The San Juan festival, which occurs deep in the Peruvian jungles, is an important day celebrating the patron saint of the Amazon. San Juan Bautista, otherwise known as St. John the Baptist, is the guardian of all the incredibly important waterways throughout the region. Here is everything you need to know about this massive celebration.
What is the Fiesta de San Juan?
As mentioned above, this festival is all about celebrating Saint John the Baptist. Many Catholic countries in the world celebrate this day, including Spain and Portugal. In Peru, this festival signifies two things: the celebration of the patron saint and the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere. Because Saint John is associated with water, he is revered in the Amazon where water is imperative to the community.
When is it?
The festival is celebrated on June 24 every year with massive celebrations. The night before, June 23, men and women flock to the waterways to take part in the “blessed bath” to be blessed with happy and healthy year.
How is this festival celebrated?
The days surrounding June 24 are filled with processions and festivities in cities such as Iquitos, Tarapoto, Tingo Maria, Pucallpa, and Puerto Maldonado. The day of June 24 is a day filled with relaxing, usually by the rivers, feasting, and drinking.
The most prominent food that can be found during this time is Juanes, named for San Juan himself. These little parcels are rice, chicken, egg, and olives wrapped in banana leaves. Traditionally, the women prepare massive amounts of these the night before the festival to be shared among friends and family the next day.
As the sun sets on the riverbanks, people make their way back to their homes and cities to continue the party. There are many parties throughout the evening where people take part in a traditional dance, or pandilla, while drinking and partying the night away.
While this festival also coincides with *Inti Raymi*, it is one of the most celebrated days of the year in Peru. Enjoy thousands of locals coming together and spending time with their families and friends. The festivities are unforgettable for locals and visitors alike.