St. John’s Feast, or La Noche de San Juan in Spanish, is a Christian festivity that commemorates the birth of St. John the Baptist and coincides with the June solstice or Midsummer. It is usually celebrated on June 24th although some countries celebrate the eve of St. John’s day, June 23rd. In Spain, Portugal Norway and Denmark, bonfires are lit up as part of the celebration. The purpose of the bonfire is to give the sun strength, since the Summer solstice marks the beginning of winter, a period when the sun is at its weakest.
La Noche de San Juan is an extra special night in Puerto Rico since the island was originally named after Saint John the Baptist (now just the capital city is called San Juan). People of all ages flock to the beaches to eat, drink and dance until the wee hours of the morning. When the clock strikes midnight, an age-old ritual takes place. The ritual consists of walking backwards towards the shore and letting yourself go 7 times (back first) into the water, kind of like getting “rebaptized”. It is believed that the ocean will wash away the bad luck and bless you with good fortune.
So now you’re ready to take a midnight dip, but where to go? Here are a few suggestions!
For the youngsters
Almost every beach hosts an impromptu Noche de San Juan shindig and your degree of comfort around large crowds of people will help you determine which one to go to. Beaches like Ocean Park in Condado, the Balneario de Isla Verde and El Escambrón in Old San Juan are definitely for the younger crowds. At around 5pm, (more or less) coolers and beach chairs in hand, the troupes start setting up camp at their preferred spot to get ready for the celebration. Word to the wise, arrive early! Parking is limited and it gets pretty busy.
Baby boomers can have fun too
Although virtually every beach will be busy on this special night, hip hotels such as La Concha in Condado, El San Juan Hotel in Isla Verde and Sheraton Convention Center in Miramar offer a variety of options for the more relaxed and grown-up. Try stepping out into the beach and mingle with the crowds. If it’s not your cup of tea, their groovy pools and exciting atmosphere are the perfect setting for an unforgettable Noche de San Juan.
No matter where you end up celebrating this exciting night, please remember to clean up after yourselves and help us keep our beaches clean!
Questions? Comments? Drop us a line and we’ll be happy to help!