Saturday, June 24, 2006

El Día de San Juan

[bumped for a reminder of today's events - Man Eegee]

I love Tucson. Everyday I learn something new about my city's quirky/synergistic culture; in this case cultura.

June 24th is the Catholic feast commemorating the birth of Saint John the Baptist, who is a very prominent figure in the New Testament as both a cousin of Jesus and the person responsible for "preparing the way" before the Messiah's ministry began 30A.D.ish Wikipedia has a comprehensive roundup of John's prominence in religious tradition that spans Christianity, Islam, and Mandaeanism.

Spending time here in the desert southwest of the U.S. you quickly realize that water availability is an issue. Our "rivers" only run with water when the torrential rainfall of the monsoons are unleashed in the area. Irrigation systems, dams and the practical effects of supply and demand are the major causes.

According to an article in today's Caliente section of the Arizona Daily Star:
Local lore has it that a 16th-century Spanish conquistador couldn't handle the parched Sonoran Desert to which he was stationed and thus appealed to St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of water, to make it rain.

"His faith was so great, it did, in fact, rain," according to the story told by Lillian Lopez-Grant.

Since then, celebrating the feast day of San Juan has been a popular activity in Tucson, said Lopez-Grant, chairwoman of the committee of community volunteers that's putting on this year's observance on Saturday, St. John's actual feast day.

"While it had its roots with the missionaries and the Catholic Church," she said, "it has become part of the culture of Tucson now."

linkage (and info on the fiesta)
I'm always fascinated by the way traditions evolve from a single point. In the case of El Día de San Juan on Saturday, the night before is celebrated across Spain with bonfires and rituals of cleansing and renewal; messages preached by Saint John at the waters of the River Jordan. The fires are kindled across cultures and borders to the shores of Ireland where the bonfires trace their roots to Celtic influence.

While I haven't read any mention of bonfire-hopping for the fiesta here in the Old Pueblo, Tucsonans will be gathering at the dry banks of the Santa Cruz to enjoy the sounds of mariachi, eat to their corazon's content of tamales and tacos, and continue the discussion of how immigration policies are affecting our area.

The Border Action Network is using the holiday to highlight the crisis that heats up every year as the mercury rises in the thermometers on the patios of wealthy foothills mansions by hosting a Radio-Thon to raise money for their advocacy work. These people are on the front lines of the battle everyday with their opposition to the various vigilante groups, militarization of the border region, and the xenophobic hate that is directed at the Latino community.

Please help spread the word so that the message of human rights with respect to the U.S./Mexico border debate is spread loud and clear.

Click for more information

[/shameless promotion]
"Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." 10 And the crowds asked him, "What then should we do?" 11 In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise." - Luke 8:3-11
The prophets were hardcore liberals, just ask Jim Wallis.

Crossposted at Human Beams

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