San Juan Capistrano has a rich history and it all surrounds Mission San Juan Capistrano. The mission is what helped make California what it is today. We celebrate the mission in many different ways thanks to the part it plays in our history. One of the best examples is St Josephs Day and the return of the swallows. This tradition celebrates San Juan Capistrano and it started a long time ago. We carry on with that tradition, even in 2020.
You are invited to discover one of the oldest traditions in San Juan Capistrano on St Josephs Day and the return of the swallows.
St Josephs Day at Mission San Juan Capistrano
St Josephs Day is a Christian holiday that celebrates Saint Joseph. Saint Joseph is believed to be the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. However, the Christian holiday has even more meaning in San Juan Capistrano. The mission came to San Juan Capistrano in 1776 and has stood the test of time. But Father O’Sullivan noticed in the 1920s that swallows would swarm the area. The swallows came to the mission every year in March. St Josephs Day is on March 19th. Father O’Sullivan made a connection between the swallows and Saint Joseph and thus, the tradition began.
Did you know that St Josephs Day in San Juan Capistrano is world-famous? Music composer Leon Rene composed a song titled, “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano” which was a chart-topper in the ‘40s. The Ink Spots, Glenn Miller, and Pat Boone have all re-recorded the song in their own ways. The song made the swallows famous but also San Juan Capistrano, the mission, and the holidays that locals celebrate and tourists come to witness.
The entire community comes together to celebrate St Josephs day in many different ways. The event always happens on March 19th, no matter what day of the week it is. It is a tradition, after all. The celebration consists of the ringing of the historic bells, live music, presentations, special guests, Native American storytelling, school performances, Flamenco dances, and so much more. You can find the festivities can at the mission, where everything started. Tickets are free for members, $12 for adults, $11 for seniors, and $8 for children. This is the best way to celebrate spring in all of Orange County.