Water and light
by Evans Yonson
Today is the Feast of Saint John the Baptist in the Christian world. It’s a holiday here in Barcelona. Like any other year, the night before the Fest de Sant Joan, there is a party in the beach. It’s also a celebration for the summer solstice (though this year, it falls on June 21st in the Northern Hemisphere around 1128H). Here in Spain, people always have a way of celebrating anything: the changing of the season, Christmas, New Year, Holy Week, and so on. As if there is not enough to last a lifetime, people also celebrate in two birthdays in a year: one for their calendar birthday, and the other one is for the saint that they were named after.
According to tradition, the child’s Saint’s Day, or name day – el día del santo – is the child’s most significant personal celebration. Each saint has their own special day in the calendar, and on that day children named after the saint receive presents. It’s like this. Jose Manuel, for example. Jose is his calendar name. Manuel is taken from the name of the saint to whom his parents dedicated his life to. My name is Evans Rosauro. My calendar birthday falls on October 7, the Feast of the Holy Rosary. So, the Mother of Holy Rosary is no longer my dedicated patroness. Evans is a Welsh name derived from the Hebrew name John. Since I am old enough now, I could choose my own Saint John. There is St. John the Apostle and the Evangelist, who could very well be my saint. But I prefer my saint to be Saint John the Baptist, who baptized Christ with water. The Holy Spirit baptized Christ with light later on. So, today is my first second birthday or my first Dia de San Juan.
How do you celebrate your second birthday? Isn’t that strange to hear that you have two birthdays in a year? I know some friends who celebrate theirs once every four years. But two in a year? Is it as festive as your calendar birthday?
This is going to be my first second birthday celebration. I will try as much as possible to celebrate it the way any Spanish native born would do it every year. I mean this could be fun since this is my first time. As most Spanish would do it, they hear Mass, light a few candles, say a little prayer of thanksgiving to their holy namesake, and partyyyyy! This sounds too Filipino for me because most Spanish celebrate their calendar birthday by inviting friends to go to their place and bring their own food and drinks to party.
I know. I know. This is how it is in Europe. There is nothing wrong with that because this is their culture and I respect that alot. Hands down. Remember, when in Spain do as the Spanish do. Whenever I have a party here, I always make sure that I have some Filipino food for my guests. It could be adobo (pork and chicken sauteed with garlic, pepper, soya sauce and vinegar) or lumpiang shanghai (crispy fried spring rolls). Last Christmas, I had imported-from-the-Philippines San Miguel Pale Pilsen beer to go with my usual fare.
Today, I am not partying. No lechon (roasted pig). No pansit (noodles for long life). No cerveza. My special someone is just reading this blog as he himself is preparing for his own summer vacation away from me and Barcelona. I am hearing mass at the Sagrada Familia. How significant can that be? Light a few candles. Say a long prayer of thanksgiving. And that’s it. The great party is starting tomorrow in another country. As a birthday gift to myself, I’m flying out of Barcelona tomorrow. It’s going to be a 15-day trip outside of Spain. I’m going to several countries in one trip. How exciting can that be? On my first second birthday, I will be travelling. I love it. I’ll save the food party for October.
Meanwhile, the San Juan celebration in Barcelona is very lively. People go to the beach late in the afternoon. Just immediately after sunset, around 10pm, children along with their parents would run to the beach and start lighting their firecrackers. Fireworks would start filling the Catalan skies around 1030pm. It’s a celebration that is based on religion and nature. It’s a baptism of water. People go to the beach to take a dip or perhaps breath the summer breeze. It’s the beginning of the hot season. It’s a baptism of fire. After several months of short days and long nights, people now want more light to fill their lives.
One birthday or two, it doesn’t really matter at all when your life is a party every single moment. Water or light, it happens every single day when we try to do good to others that renew our personal baptism with the holy beings. It is the thanksgiving for a life well-lived with lots of caring and true friends around that give meaning to the celebration of life.
Happy birthday to me!!! And according to tradition, I should receive presents today.