By Helena Rodriguez
To all the people named Juan out there, happy “dia de su santo.” This can include all the Johns, Johnnys, John Boys, Dear Johns, Juanitos, Juanellos and, in Italia, to all named Giovanni.
“Dia de su Santo” means happy saints day and I say that because today is the feast day of Mexico, Latin America’s and Nuevo Mejico’s beloved Mexican saint, Juan Diego, who was canonized by now Saint Pope John Paul II in 2002.
There is one in a million chance, or should I say there is “Juan” in a million chance, that you don’t know someone named Juan.
Why are there so many Juans? Well, according to my mom, when she was growing up, everybody had to have someone named Juan. Why? Well … why are there so many named Jose, Maria and Jesus, too? Because those are the names of The Holy Family.
As for Juan, though, I was not sure, and so I asked my mom. I remember my mom always saying that there had to be a Juan in the family. And in Rudolfo Anaya’s novel, “Bless Me, Ultima,” the curandera, Ultima, says that Antonio must accompany her to cure a man possessed by a demon because Antonio’s middle name is Juan.
My mom told me that when a baby was inflicted with “El Mal Ojo” or “The Evil Eye” that someone named Juan had to sprinkle water on the baby.
And so I asked mom, “Does the name Juan then represent John the Baptist?” She didn’t have an answer and I couldn’t find one online but that is what I believe.
As for Juan Diego, he was a poor peasant, an Aztec, who is believed to have experienced miracles and visions of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City in 1531. Today, on that site, there stands a basilica dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is visited by millions of pilgrims every year.
Nowadays, there are not as many Juans. People are giving their children more and more “Yunique” names, if you get my drift.
I read on Babycenter.com that the top name in 2014 for Hispanic baby boys was Santiago, followed by Mateo, Sebastian and Alejandro.
Diego was No. 6.
Interestingly though, Juan Pablo came in at No. 38, Juan Sebastian at No. 49, Juan Diego at No. 90 and Juan David at No. 100. And so with that, chances are not just Juan in a hundred, but six in every hundred, that you know a Juan.
That is how many Juans I counted on the top Hispanic baby names list, and that’s not counting all the non-Hispanics named Juan or even John, Johnny, Johnny Come Latelys and so on.
Helena Rodriguez is a Portales native. Contact her at: Helena-Rodriguez@hotmail.com