In Catholicism, June 24 is the feast day of St. John the Baptist.
According to tradition this day marks the beginning of the monsoon season. There is a legend that the Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado prayed for rain on June 24, 1540. Right after his prayers it rained.
John the Baptist ritually cleansed the faithful of their sins in the Jordan River. So people of Mexico and the American Southwest once followed morning mass on June 24 with a dip fully clothed in the nearest body of water. Up through the 1930s and 1940s in Tucson, Hispanic mothers instructed their children to take baths on San Juan's day because all water was especially blessed on that day.
Public celebrations of El Día de San Juan faded in Tucson. Public fiestas on the nearby Tohono O’odahm reservation also disappeared.
In 1998, the City of Tucson in partnership with neighborhoods and private organizations revived the tradition of “El Día de San Juan."
For more history and the observances of El Día de San Juan see the Arizona Daily Star article “El Día de San Juan retains its monsoon aura", published June 19, 1997 on page C1.
"El Día de San Juan retains its monsoon aura." Arizona Daily Star. June 19, 1997. Page C1.
"Feast of St. John the Baptist celebrates monsoon’s onset." Arizona Daily Star. June 23, 2008. Page D1.
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