Dia De San Juan

DIA DE SAN JUANHere’s a program from our archives.ambience: Music (drums, singing,) Dia de San Juan, Curiepe, Venezuela This week marks the ceebration of the St. John’s Day in South America and around the world. In Venezuela, the holiday is called Dia de San Juan and it’s become a blending of local, European and African traditions. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Guss: Dia de San Juan is one of the most widespread festivals anywhere. Probably beginning in pagan times with giant bonfires.David Guss is a professor of Anthropology at Tufts University.Guss: They were fires that were lit at the time of the summer solstice and in these giant fires, bones were thrown in. And that’s where the term bonfire comes in, from this festival. It was perhaps the most widespread, important pagan celebration known. The St. John the Baptist celebrations were very quickly adapted through South America everywhere and integrated into indigenous, native celebrations. In Venezuela, this festival became very, very important amongst Afro-Venezuelan peoples. It eventually became a drum festival. A festival that ostensibly was celebrating St. John the Baptist, celebrating perhaps the Summer Solstice, underneath that, but over a period of time was taken back by the participants, by Afro-Venezuelans who were descendants of the original slaves who lived in this area of Venezuela. And they started to take it back and say what is really going on here is that this is a celebration of our African heritage.More on Dia de San Juan in future programs. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner. We’ve been listening to a program from our archives. If you want to hear more, check out our podcast.

Dia De San Juan

A Venezuelan festival honoring a Catholic saint has taken on a decidedly African flavor.
Air Date:06/22/2021
Scientist:
Transcript:

DIA DE SAN JUANHere's a program from our archives.ambience: Music (drums, singing,) Dia de San Juan, Curiepe, Venezuela This week marks the ceebration of the St. John's Day in South America and around the world. In Venezuela, the holiday is called Dia de San Juan and it's become a blending of local, European and African traditions. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Guss: Dia de San Juan is one of the most widespread festivals anywhere. Probably beginning in pagan times with giant bonfires.David Guss is a professor of Anthropology at Tufts University.Guss: They were fires that were lit at the time of the summer solstice and in these giant fires, bones were thrown in. And that's where the term bonfire comes in, from this festival. It was perhaps the most widespread, important pagan celebration known. The St. John the Baptist celebrations were very quickly adapted through South America everywhere and integrated into indigenous, native celebrations. In Venezuela, this festival became very, very important amongst Afro-Venezuelan peoples. It eventually became a drum festival. A festival that ostensibly was celebrating St. John the Baptist, celebrating perhaps the Summer Solstice, underneath that, but over a period of time was taken back by the participants, by Afro-Venezuelans who were descendants of the original slaves who lived in this area of Venezuela. And they started to take it back and say what is really going on here is that this is a celebration of our African heritage.More on Dia de San Juan in future programs. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner. We've been listening to a program from our archives. If you want to hear more, check out our podcast.