St. John the Baptist day is a special feast day that inaugurates summer. The only nativities the Church celebrates are that of Our Lord, Our Lady and St. John the Baptist whose nativity is celebrated on June 24. His beheading is celebrated on August 29.
Our Lord and Lady were conceived without original sin while St. John was cleansed of original sin during the Visitation when the Blessed Virgin Mary greeted her cousin St. Elizabeth. (Luke 1:43-44)
We celebrate the feasts of saints on the anniversary of their deaths which was their birth into life everlasting. This special grace given to St. John the Baptist is the reason that we celebrate his nativity as well as his martyrdom.
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St. John's nativity is celebrated 6 months before Christmas during the summer solstice. St. John says:
He must increase, but I must decrease.
From this time forward, in the western hemisphere the sun gives less light each day.
In December after the winter solstice the sun's light grows more and more each day. St. John decreases with the sun and Our Lord arrives on the darkest night and the light increases.
It is a tradition to burn broken furniture, sacramentals and holy things on this day. If a priest is available, he can bless the fields and go through them with a torch from the fire.
Saving sacramentals throughout other seasons and holidays that need destroyed as well as furniture and a brush pile is a great way to celebrate this solemnity with your family at home. If you are lucky enough to have a priest attend your gathering, he can bless your fields or garden this same day.
St. John's Wort, which is named after the saint, not only proclaims the opening of summer but it also has its own connection to this feast. Since the Middle Ages people have decorated their doorways and windows with these little yellow flowers to keep evil spirits away. So if you happen to have St. John's Wort you should bring some in and decorate the home.
Michael Foley suggests several drinks to aid in the celebration. Since St. John the Baptist is the patron saint of Puerto Rico, celebrate with a Piña Colada! There is also a number of drinks that share the name of the saint such as the "San Juan". Or, recall the diet of locust the Baptist ate in the dessert and shake up a "Grasshopper"!
More of a wine person? Try "Muscat de Saint-Jean-de-Minervois". Also fitting in with St. John's diet, this wine has a honey aroma.
Try Drinking the the Saints to experience cocktails and drinks for every feast day in the year. This is a truly indispensable book for party fun.
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