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Noche de San Juan: A Puerto Rican Tradition

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Puerto Rico is full of traditions and celebrations. One of my favorites is “La Noche de San Juan” or St. John’s Night, widely celebrated throughout the world on the night of June 23, with each country and region having its own traditions and rituals.

In Puerto Rico, tradition holds that walking backwards towards the beach and then jumping backwards into the water at exactly midnight brings good luck and keeps evil away throughout the year.  It has also become a joyful celebration where family and friends meet and celebrate. The rituals associated with the water date back to the ancient civilizations.

This year June 23 was a Saturday and that meant much bigger parties! All throughout Puerto Rico families and friends gathered to celebrate, enjoyed concerts, partied, danced, and gathered around bon fires. People went camping, boating or simply went to the beach until midnight then headed back home.

Being a sailing family, we decided to celebrate it by anchoring off of one of Puerto Rico’s east coast outer islands called Icacos and agreed to meet there with two other sailing families.  We were pleasantly surprised when two other families showed up in their boats as well.  It was like a reunion out of “The Big Chill” movie. By sundown five lifelong friends and sailors, along with their families, rafted together their boats to celebrate “La Noche de San Juan.”

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We have sailed and raced together and against each other for over 30 years but this time we were not racing or protesting each other for our behavior on the race course…we were just hanging out, relaxing, telling stories,  reminiscing about the good old days as we waited for midnight and shared a few cold ones…It turned out that by midnight most of all were too tired or “happy” to jump in backwards 12 times, so we watched the few brave souls who jumped into the water behind the boats.

Some people say you must jump backwards seven times, while others say 12 times—but in reality, it does not really matter how many times you jump backwards into the water.  What really matters is that you found yet another great excuse to go sailing, swimming, and partying with your friends and relatives…and who knows?… maybe even get some better luck for the remainder of the year along the way.

If you are planning to sail or charter nearby in the future, add a stop in Puerto Rico around June 23rd and join us in our celebration of La Noche de San Juan.

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So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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