Published on August 2nd, 2010 | by Mark Chesnut
VIDEO: Noche de San Juan — Puerto Rico’s Night at the Beach
Every year on June 23, thousands of people in Puerto Rico go to the beach at midnight and throw themselves into the water seven times, backwards. Join me for a VIDEO report about Noche de San Juan, one of the island’s most lively and interesting traditions.
This ancient tradition’s pagan roots are still celebrated with bonfires in northern Europe every year. It wasn’t until later centuries that the event was adopted by Christians, who renamed it Night of St. John, or Noche de San Juan, after St. John the Baptist.
The event is especially lively in Puerto Rico, where on June 23 revelers gather on beaches around the island. I started the evening at an upscale indoor celebration at La Concha, a Renaissance Resort, but soon headed out onto Condado Beach for a traditional night with scores of happy people. In this video, several locals and visitors share their thoughts about what Noche de San Juan means (as well as what you should be drinking to celebrate it, and why you have to throw yourself backwards seven times). Soon, fireworks herald the midnight hour, and throngs amble into the water to make a series of symbolic dips for good look. Whether you view it as a pagan ritual, a Catholic tradition, a spiritual baptism or just a good excuse to go swimming in the middle of the night, Noche de San Juan is, above all else, a pleasant night for friends and family.