Dia de San Juan Fiesta!

In Ireland they combine the pagan summer solstice celebration with the Christian feast day of St. John the Baptist by burning bonfires and spreading the ashes on their fields, praying for God’s blessing on their crops.

In Tucson, John the Baptist is the patron saint of water and we live in the desert. We also have a strong Native American population, some of whom converted to Catholicism but kept their own traditions. So on June 24th, everyone gets together to celebrate the Dia de San Juan by praying for rain and asking God’s blessing on el chubasco, the monsoon season.

In traditional Catholic fashion, the statue of San Juan processed from the back of the festival to the altar

Where a Catholic priest and a Tohono O’Odam elder blessed water and rained it on the crowd. Then Aztec dancers blessed the 4 cardinal directions with incense

And danced what I think was a traditional rain dance.

I think this group of dancers is a family because there were several kids of different ages dressed in the traditional costume and performing with various levels of skill and interest. The littlest one, however, couldn’t participate and wasn’t having it. The third time he came out to find his mom while she was dancing, she pacified him with a jug of water.

Only in Tucson.

Before the blessings, these middle school kids stood in the sun for hours playing mariachi music. I would guess the temperature (conservatively) at about 1000 degrees and they not only played and sang but wore long sleeves and pants while doing it. Dedicated.

What’s a festival without vendors of shiny toys?

Loteria inspired face painting

Folklorico dancers

And families hanging out on the curb?

I’d call the circus stilt walkers an unexpected bonus with the circus in town, and all.

I think the festival’s still going on. If you hurry, you can get the last carne asada taco.


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