St John's Eve

St John's Eve

The evening of June 23, St. John's Eve, is the eve of celebration before the Feast Day of St. John the Baptist. The Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:36, 56-57) states that John was born about six months before Jesus, therefore the feast of John the Baptist falls on June 24, six months before Christmas. This feast day is one of the very few saint's days to mark the anniversary of the birth, rather than the death, of its namesake.

The Feast of St. John coincides with the June solstice also referred to as Midsummers. The Christian holy day is fixed at June 24, but, in the old way, festivities are celebrated the night before, on St. John's Eve.

St. John's Eve (or "Oiche Fheile Eoin" ("Bonfire Night")) is celebrated in many parts of rural Ireland with the lighting of bonfires. This ancient custom has its roots in pre-Christian Irish society when the Celts honored the Goddess Áine, the Celtic equivalent of Venus and Aphrodite. She was the Goddess Queen of Munster and Christianised rituals in her honour (as Naomh Áine) took place until the nineteenth century on Knockainy, (Cnoc Áine - the Hill of Áine) in County Limerick.

During the festival, people would say prayers, asking for God's blessing upon their crops. They would also take ashes from the fire, and spread them over their land as a blessing for protection for their crops. It was also common to have music, singing, dancing, and games during the festival. The fire was used for destroying small objects of piety (rosary beads, statues, ect.) without disrespecting God. It was also common for people to jump through the flames of the bonfire for good luck.

In Thomas Flanagan's "The Year of the French," the ancient festival of St. John's Eve takes place. The book is set during the Irish rebellion of 1798. Here is an excerpt from "The Year of the French":

"Soon it would be Saint John's Eve. Wood for the bonfire had already been piled high upon Steeple HIll, and when the night came there would be bonfires on every hill from there to Downpatrick Head. There would be dancing and games in the open air, and young men would try their bravery leaping through the flames. There would even be young girls leaping through, for it was helpful in the search of a husband to leap through a Saint John's Eve fire, the fires of midsummer. The sun was at its highest then, and the fires spoke to it, calling it down upon the crops. It was the turning point of the year, and the air was vibrant with spirits."-"The Year of the French"

Historically, this date has been venerated in the practice of Voodoo. The famous Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau was said to have held ceremonies involving Voodoo ritual on the Bayou St. John in New Orleans, commemorating St. John's Eve. Modern day practitioners of Voodoo have kept the tradition alive.

Outside of the United States

Similar festivities take place in Scandinavia. Bonfires are lit and effigees burned on the evening of June 23. People jump over the bonfires to prove their courage. Traditionally, three jumps cleanses one from sin and disease. One of the centers of the festival is in Ciutadella; but many different cities and towns have their own unique traditions associated with the festival. In recent years, public celebrations have begun cordoning off the fires for safety reasons.

In the territories of Catalan language and culture, often referred to as Països Catalans, ancient pre-Christian traditions related to fire festivities are still among the most popular. Bonfires are lit in the streets and there are fireworks too. Special meals are also served on this occasion.

In Puerto Rico, a weekend long celebration in held in San Juan (named after St John). There are parades, food, and many parties. The night before, so June 23 at midnight, people travel to a beach or any accessible body of water (ex. river, lake, bathtub) and fall backwards into it seven times. This is done to cleanse the body from sin and give good luck for the following year.

ee also

* St. Mark's Eve
* Golowan
* True and Untrue
* St. John's Eve (short_story), a short story by Gogol

External links

*"The Year of the French" by Thomas Flanagan, 1979.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • JOHN'S EVE, ST. —    a festival celebrated with fires on Midsummer Eve; very universally observed and with similar rites throughout Europe, in the Middle Ages, and the celebration of it was associated with many superstitious practices …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • St. John's Eve — St. John s Eve, the night before St. John s Day, long celebrated with bonfires and other festivities in various countries of Europe, apparently in continuation of an ancient heathen festival of the summer solstice …   Useful english dictionary

  • St. John's Eve. — See Midsummer Eve. Also called St. John s Night. * * * …   Universalium

  • St John's Eve — noun the night before Midsummer Day • Syn: ↑Midsummer Eve, ↑Midsummer Night, ↑St John s Night, ↑June 23 • Hypernyms: ↑day • Part Holonyms: ↑June …   Useful english dictionary

  • saint john's eve — noun Usage: usually capitalized S&J & sometimes capitalized E 1. : the evening before St. John the Baptist s Day 2. : midsummer eve …   Useful english dictionary

  • St. John's Eve. — See Midsummer Eve. Also called St. John s Night …   Useful english dictionary

  • St John's Eve — (23/4 June)    This is the night of 23/4 June, now more generally called *Midsummer Night or Midsummer Eve, and an important date for *bonfires and *divin ations …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • St. John's Eve (play) — St. John s Eve, (Danish Norwegian: Sancthansnatten ) is a play written by Henrik Ibsen in 1853. The play is considered apocryphal, because it never entered Ibsen s collected works. The reason for this was a rather poor criticism when it was shown …   Wikipedia

  • St. John's Eve (short story) — St. John s Eve (1831 short story), is the second tale in the collection Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka by Nikolai Gogol.Plot summaryThis story is retold by Rudy Panko from Foma Grigorievich, the sexton of the Dikanka church. Rudy was in the… …   Wikipedia

  • Eve Torres — Eve Marie Torres Eve Torres le 4 décembre 2008, lors d une séance de signature d autographes. Données générales Nom complet …   Wikipédia en Français