Traditions and Foods to Celebrate in Puerto Rico
Every year in June, the fiesta de San Juan Bautista takes place in Puerto Rico. It’s the feast day for the patron saint of the country.
This fiesta happens mainly on the 24th day of June, and just like many other festivities in this part of the world, you can bet there will be a lot of food, dancing, processions and parades.
The celebration actually starts on the 23rd of June whith parties on the beaches of Puerto Rico. This is considered as the eve of St. John’s day.
Meaning of the St. Juan Baptist Festivities
Puerto Ricans take these festivities by heart as a way of thanking their patron saint for a blissful year and to pray for another fruitful year ahead of them.
During the day of the celebration, everyone wears their traditional Puerto Rican dress and if you don’t want to be the only one in drab attire, you need to wear something frilly, bright and vibrant on.
With a whole country celebrating the day of St. John the Baptist, this is indeed a festivity that is deeply embedded on their Hispanic culture. Even if partying made the participants stay up till the wee hours, they’ll be up early in the morning for a daylong celebration.
St. Johns the Baptist’s Holiday Traditions
On the eve of the festival, Puerto Ricans walk backwards towards the ocean. If you do this, you have to fall in the water 12 times at the strike of midnight on 24th of June.
There are processions celebrating the fiesta de San Juan Bautista wherever you are in Puerto Rico. The procession marks the cue for the fiesta to get in full swing.
The streets are filled with people and makeshift stages in various sections of the street where famous dancers and singers perform.
The famed Escaramuzas, a group of Hispanic precision horse riders, is always the crowd’s favorite and their performance is one of the traditions that people excitedly anticipate.
Among the many activities that you can do at this festival, probably the most exciting one is the games.
There are a number of game booths along the street where many prizes are at stake.
Traditional Puerto Rican Foods During La Fiesta de San Juan Bautista
As in any other festivities, foods take the center stage. Puerto Rican cuisine has a lot of influences which includes blends of Taino, African, American and Spanish. However, it evolved in different ways and became the authentic Puerto Rican cuisine we know today with the use of indigenous seasonings like yampee, plantains, cacao, coriander, nispero and apio.
During the celebration, expect a traditional Puerto Rican dish called asopao to be on the table. It is a broth made up from shellfish or chicken. Boricuas also serve sizzling hot appetizers before lunch or dinner during these festivities.
it’s quite impossible to think of Puerto Rican table without any crunchy cod fritters or bacalaitos, sweet plump cornmeal fingers or surullitos and empanadillas which are crescent shape turnovers filled with beef, crabs or lobsters.
The main dish would include sofrito and adobo which have distinct Puerto Rican scent and taste with the use of native herbs and spices.
The Puerto Rican beef stew or guisado puertorriqueño is one of my all time favorites. A dish I can enjoy by going to many of the Puerto Rican restaurants in Spanish Harlem, New York.
Of course the festivities are not complete without breaded calf kidneys or riñones guisados, breaded calf brain or sesos empanados and stuffed beef tongue or lengua rellena.
Desert would usually be sweet potato balls with cinnamon, cloves and coconut called nisperos de batata or guava jelly. They go along with white cheese or queso blanco.
The meal is usually capped with a sip of famous Puerto Rican coffee. It’s a black, strong aromatic coffee which has been grown in the high-altitude interiors of Puerto Rico.
The daylong festivities are filled with Puerto Rican’s passion and Rum!