Trance Dancing and Promesas

DIA DE SAN JUAN – African RootsHere’s a program from our archives.ambience: Music (drums, singing, conch) Dia de San Juan, Curiepe, VenezuelaToday in Northern Venezuela, the village of Curiepe is celebrating its version of the Dia de San Juan, St. John’s Day – a festival which draws from European and African roots. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.David Guss is an associate professor of Anthropology at Tufts University. He tells us that the celebrations of Dia de San Juan centers around the veneration of an icon representing the saint.Guss: This is a three day festival in which from the beginning when the saint is brought out from the church, people are playing drums, singing dancing, drinking for three days and three nights non-stop. It’s a very transcendent, trance-like behavior. It is extremely intense. At the end of the three days when the drums stop, they’re still ringing in your ears..The saint itself is about a three foot tall figure, alabaster, covered. Very beautiful rosy cheeks. And it is pretty much an adolescent, a child really, with a big straw hat. And the saint is danced to, throughout the entire festival and people are paying the saint back for promesas they made. During the year, they said, if this saint would grant them good health, if this saint would grant them a good harvest, if this saint would do all sorts of things that they were asking for, then they would repay the saint at this festival by burning candles to the saint, dancing to the saint this entire night, paying for this event to happen– all sorts of ways in which you can pay the promesa. So during the festival people are going up to the saint continuously, often leaving money, kissing the saint and touching the saint.More on Dia de San Juan in future programs. Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Trance Dancing and Promesas

An icon is said to hold the power to grant promises.
Air Date:06/23/2021
Scientist:
Transcript:

DIA DE SAN JUAN - African RootsHere's a program from our archives.ambience: Music (drums, singing, conch) Dia de San Juan, Curiepe, VenezuelaToday in Northern Venezuela, the village of Curiepe is celebrating its version of the Dia de San Juan, St. John's Day - a festival which draws from European and African roots. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.David Guss is an associate professor of Anthropology at Tufts University. He tells us that the celebrations of Dia de San Juan centers around the veneration of an icon representing the saint.Guss: This is a three day festival in which from the beginning when the saint is brought out from the church, people are playing drums, singing dancing, drinking for three days and three nights non-stop. It's a very transcendent, trance-like behavior. It is extremely intense. At the end of the three days when the drums stop, they're still ringing in your ears..The saint itself is about a three foot tall figure, alabaster, covered. Very beautiful rosy cheeks. And it is pretty much an adolescent, a child really, with a big straw hat. And the saint is danced to, throughout the entire festival and people are paying the saint back for promesas they made. During the year, they said, if this saint would grant them good health, if this saint would grant them a good harvest, if this saint would do all sorts of things that they were asking for, then they would repay the saint at this festival by burning candles to the saint, dancing to the saint this entire night, paying for this event to happen-- all sorts of ways in which you can pay the promesa. So during the festival people are going up to the saint continuously, often leaving money, kissing the saint and touching the saint.More on Dia de San Juan in future programs. Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.