Celebrating San Juan Bautista in San Juan del Sur

Even though the Nicaraguan government does not endorse a specific religion, the majority of the residents here are Roman Catholic (about 72%). As for other religions, there is a rapid growth of Evangelical congregations (at about 15%) and some Moravian churches on the Caribbean coast. Most of the country affiliates with some denomination of religion, so as a result, most of the holidays and celebrations in Nicaragua are religious based. 

This past weekend was the end of a huge celebration throughout the entire town called the San Juan Bautista. The celebration is in honor of John the Baptist. The festivities started on June 4th and continued throughout the month until June 24th. On the first weekend of the celebration, the locals and tourists started drinking early Friday morning. We walked through the streets and almost everyone we saw was consuming either a six pack of Tona or a bottle of Flor de Cana. We were a bit confused and very curious why everyone was drinking booze for breakfast. 

We asked our Nica family, who were drinking as well, why everyone was drinking so early on a Sunday. They explained to us that it was because today was the beginning of a very special holiday to the locals in San Juan del Sur. There was a different parade every weekend that goes throughout the streets of the town. The first one was put on by the high school students where the students danced, marched and played a variety of instruments.

The parades bring out all of the people in town to the streets to watch and be a part of the festivities. There was even a beauty pageant leading the parade with 15+ girls in high heels waving and smiling to everyone on the sidewalk. As the parade was marching through town, there were hundreds of loud firecrackers exploding all over town throughout the entire day. 

This all day event of music, dancing and drinking was just another example further proving that Nicaraguans celebrate anything and everything. Any event is an excuse to celebrate their beautiful culture and it’s a fantastic way to live life. Whether it’s preparation for a religious event or someone’s birthday, life is celebrated to the fullest extent here in Nicaragua. 

But the San Juan Bautista celebrations were far from over. The biggest weekend celebration was by far the final weekend. It blew every cultural celebration we’d ever seen out of the water…

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