Thursday, June 23, 2016

St. John's Eve

June 23 is celebrated in many places around the world as St. John's Eve. The Catholic Church honors St. John the Baptist's birthday on June 24th and long ago many of the pagan customs of the Summer Solstice became co-mingled with the Christian holiday. The website has an interesting article about the history and traditions of the St. John's Eve Bonfire.

St. John's Eve is a night for magic and it's celebrated with bonfires from Denmark to Ireland to Brazil and beyond. In Quebec, Canada, St. John the Baptist is the patron saint of the province and the holiday is celebrated with bonfires and parades. In the United States, it is mostly celebrated in the French regions of Louisiana. New Orleans celebrates St. John's Eve with Voodoo rituals.

Large St. John's Eve Bonfire in Alesund, Norway
It's on St. John's Eve that the blending of Christian and pagan practices are most visible. Believed to be a night for strong magic, St. John's Eve is a time for dreaming of your true love and protecting yourself from evil.

The herb St. John's Wort which blooms around this time has become a symbol for the celebration. Witchipedia (yes, there is such a thing) says that you can sleep with a sprig under your pillow for a vision of St. John in your dreams. If you don't have the vision, however, you're probably going to die in the next year. Yikes!

St. John's Wort (source: National Practitioner Magazine)
To protect against evil spirits St. John's Wort is also thrown in bonfires, made into wreathes hung on doors, and woven into crowns. Other St. John's Eve traditions include collecting the dew on St. John's Day morning before it evaporates for magical healing properties. Hop over to a post on the blog The Bittersweet Gourmet called St. John's Eve: Remedies & Rituals You Should Have Performed Last Night for more ideas.

I have St. John's Wort planted in my garden and when I looked last evening it was just about to bloom. I'm hoping for at least one flower today. I'll probably put a sprig or two around the doors tonight, just in case. If you don't have any St. John's Wort, maybe you can light a bonfire or at least a candle. I think it's important to keep these folk traditions alive.

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