By Christina Hermoso
The feast of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist (San Juan de Bautista) will be on Wednesday, June 24, one of only two saints, the other being the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose birth anniversary is commemorated by the Roman Catholic Church.
St. John the Baptist is the precursor and a cousin of Jesus Christ. His parents were Saints Zechariah, a Jewish priest, and Elizabeth, a cousin of the Virgin Mary, who had him in their old age. The narrative of the Birth of St. John the Baptist is in the Gospel of Luke.
In San Juan City in Metro Manila, the feast is traditionally marked with the dousing of water along the streets, reminiscent of the baptism performed by St. John at the Jordan River.
In other parts of the country, traditional observances, which might have to be deferred because of the pandemic, include the “Parada ng Lechon” in Balayan, Batangas. The roasted pigs, all decorated and dressed, are blessed in St. John’s name after the fiesta mass at the Immaculate Conception Parish.
In Aliaga, Nueva Ecija, the “Taong Putik” Festival is another celebration held on the feast of St. John the Baptist. Popularly known among the locals as “pagsa-San Juan,” participants in the parade traditionally cover themselves with mud and adorn their bodies with vines and leaves as inspired by St. John’s attire during his time.
Celebrated since the year 506 and making it one of the oldest feasts in the Church calendar, St. John’s other feast day is on August 29, which is the Feast of his Beheading.