San Juan and San Pedro Festivals

San Juan and San Pedro Festivals

June 24; June 29
The celebrations of St. John's Day (June 24) and St. Peter's Day (June 29) in Tobatí, Paraguay, have much in common. Both have a religious element, with special masses, and a traditional folk element, with a game called Toro Candil . In this game, someone plays the toro, or bull, by wearing a hide-covered frame with a bull's skull attached to the front and chasing everyone around. His horns are wrapped with rags drenched with kerosene and set on fire, so that when darkness falls and he chases spectators through the streets, the flaming horns make the game more exciting.
Other costumed characters who play a part in the game include a ñandú guazú (a rhea, which is similar to an ostrich) and men playing Guaycurú Indians dressed in rags with faces painted black. The ñandú—actually a child inside a small leaf-covered cage—follows the bull around, and pesters him. The Guaycurú chase women around and threaten to abduct them. Other participants in the festival carry blazing torches and menace women—a remnant, perhaps, of the ancient festivals observed on June 24 with bonfires and the practice of walking barefoot over live coals ( see also Midsummer Day).
CONTACTS:
Embassy of Paraguay
2400 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-483-6960; fax: 202-234-4508
www.embaparusa.gov.py
SOURCES:
FiestaTime-1965, p. 101
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 408
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