“El Veinte y Cuatro de Junio, El Mero Dia De San Juan” – A Day Of Celebration
Photo shows water from the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range flowing in the Santa Cruz River in the Spring.
On June 24, En el Dia de San Juan, that very water is blessed and holy according to tradition in New Mexico.
Photo by Robert A. Naranjo / Valley Daily Post
By ROBERT NARANJO
Ohkay Owingeh-San Juan Pueblo – The twenty-fourth day of June was a red letter or a day for celebration,
both religious and social, for much of the northern New Mexico population in days past and are still celebrated in
parts of New Mexico, today. Historically, the day is celebrated world-wide as the birthday of Saint John the
Baptist who foretold of the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and who, according to scripture, baptized
In New Mexico, it is celebrated as El Dia de San Juan, or Saint John the Baptist day. On this, day the waters
that flow from the mountains via streams and rivers, sometimes held in storage in dams like Santa Cruz,
is considered to be “agua bendita” (blessed, sacred or holy water).
Beginning from the 24 day of June forward, area children could splash around in acequias and/or ponds.
Summer had officially begun on June 20, so the water was not bitter cold but cool and refreshing.
“El Veinte y Cuatro de Junio, El Mero Dia De San Juan,” (The Twenty Fourth Day of June, Saint John’s Day),is
a Spanish song that is played on KDCE radio and has been a favorite for locals for many years. Its
high energy lyrics speak of today’s date being Saint John’s Day and Españoles Mexicanos or Spanish (New)
Mexicans (Gov. Don Diego DeVargas‘ term) have celebrated it for over 400 years in some communiites and for
generations in others. Many Catholic churches and capillas (chapels) celebrated a “funcion” or literally
translated, a function or fiesta, if you will. Family, friends and neighbors were invited but attending mass
in the community’s chapel, or the mother church, was first, then the fiesta!
Our neighbors, the Pueblo people, incorporated June 24 as a “Feast Day” and for hundreds of years now
have celebrated this date also. At Ohkay Owingeh-San Juan Pueblo, site of the first Capital of New Mexico,
established by Governor Don Juan de Onate in 1598, the Pueblo is celebrating El Dia de San Juan with
Comanche and Buffalo dances during the course of the day. If you attend, be mindful that the dances are
religious in nature to the Pueblos and are considered sacred. If you want to take photos, contact the
Governor’s office for a permit. No pets or alcoholic beverages allowed. Don’t talk, ask questions or
interrupt the dancers. Don’t cut across the dancers and stay out buildings. In general, use common sense.
Additionally, Santa Clara Pueblo and other New Mexico Pueblos celebrate “El Dia de San Juan” as a Feast
Day complete with dances. Google St. John’s Day Feast Day on your phone or computer.
You will see dancers that are dressed in ancient Pueblo custom. At Ohkay Owingeh-San Juan, it’s quite a
sight to see nearly 200 people, ranging from five-year old boys and girls to “elders” or senior adults,
dancing and using little bells on their footwear, gourd rattles, and several men keeping the dancers in
rhythm with uniquely familiar songs sung and chanted to drumbeats. Although not understandable to
the visitor, they still have a way of syncing a person to the culture of the singers and dancers. The hundreds
of little bells and gourd rattles and the singing accompanied by steady drum beats must be experienced at
least once as a local or a visitor. One comes away with a deeper appreciation of the Pueblo people and a
feeling of being lucky to live in “La Tierra del Encanto” or The Land of Enchantment.”