Each town in Nicaragua has its own Patron Saint. Nicaraguans of all ages honor the saint’s birthday annually with celebrations called fiestas patronales.
While the purpose is religious, the focus is on music, dance, games, rodeos, and more – including the occasional cervesa or Nica Libre. Along with San Juan de Oriente and San Juan de Jinotega, the community of San Juan del Sur celebrated its patron saint, Saint John, with pride this past week.
Saturday, June 20th, marked the beginning of San Juan’s 2009 fiesta patronal with a hípica (horse parade) and the coronation of Miss San Juan del Sur. On Sunday, the church held a mass in celebration of all the “Johns.” Monday-Wednesday played host to a series of neighborhood processions of the image of Saint John, as well as to three rodeos.
The festivities went into high gear with an all-night celebration on Tuesday evening, complete with a fireworks display, mariachis, marimbas, and a Gigantonas dance-off.
San Juaneños officially honored the birthday of Saint John on Wednesday with folkloric dancers, a final procession of Saint John…
….and my personal favorite – Juegos Bufos (silly games). The games consisted of Palo Lucio (wherein men attempt to climb to the top of a very tall, greased pole), a bicycle race around town, and Chancho Lucio (a greased pig is unleashed in the streets of the pueblo and grown men and children attempt to capture it).
The week of festivities wrapped Wednesday night with a concert on the beach featuring the band Macolla.
By my estimation, Fiestas Patronales was one of the best celebrations in San Juan del Sur, not to be missed! To find out when Fiestas Patronales take place in your town, visit http://www.hechoennicaragua.com/feriados.asp