feast of st. john

And when night comes, and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been, and how much you planned that has gone undone, and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed: just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God’s hands and leave it with Him.
—  Edith Stein was a German-Jewish philosopher who converted to Catholicism and became a Discalced Carmelite nun, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, OCD. She was taken from the Echt Carmel on August 2, 1942, and transported by cattle train to the death camp of Auschwitz, the conditions in the box cars being so inhuman that many died or went insane on the four day trip. She died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz on August 9, 1942. She was canonized as a Saint on October 11, 1998, by Pope John Paul II and the Feast of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross is celebrated on August 9.
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Kupala Night, also known as Ivan Kupala Day (Feast of St. John the Baptist; Russian: Иван-Купала; Belarusian: Купалле; Ukrainian: Іван Купала; Polish: Noc Kupały) Many of the rites related to this holiday within Slavic religious beliefs, due to the ancient Kupala rites, are connected with the role of water in fertility and ritual purification.On Kupala day, young people jump over the flames of bonfires in a ritual test of bravery and faith. The failure of a couple in love to complete the jump while holding hands is asign of their destined separation.Taraxacum wreath floating on waterGirls may float wreaths of flowers (often lit with candles) on rivers, and would attempt to gain foresight into their relationship fortunes from the flow patterns of the flowers on the river. Men may attempt to capture the wreaths, in the hope of capturing the interest of the woman who floated the wreath.There is an ancient Kupala belief that the eve of Ivan Kupala is the only time of the year when ferns bloom. Prosperity, luck, discernment and power would befall on whoever finds a fern flower. Therefore, on that night, village folk would roam through the forests in search of magical herbs and especially the elusive fern flower.Traditionally, unmarried women, signified by the garlands on their hair, are the first to enter the forest. They are followed by young men. Therefore, the quest to find herbs and the fern flower may lead to the blooming of relationships between pairs of men and women within the forest.It is to be noted, however, that ferns are not angiosperms (flowering plants), and instead reproduce by spores; they cannot flower. IN THIS FEAST WODNIK, TOPIELEC AND UTOPIEC ARE MOST ACTIVE!

Wicca Weekly: Litha

Hello My dear Followers,


It’s been brought to myattention that it’s been a while since I actually wrote a Wicca Weekly post that wasn’t a personal update or the answering of a specific question. Let’s fix that. My goal in the near future is to finish the holiday series so that when someone asks me what they need to know in their first steps of pagandom I can send them to a Holidays post.


So far I have done


Since I have been (sorta) going in order, this means the next holiday up for explanation is Litha/Midsummer. Speaking from experience a lot of people know the name of the holiday..but haven’t the foggiest idea of what to do.


Well, I am here to help clear things up for you.



Litha: The Longest Day

History

Litha, also called midsummer, is celebrated on the longest day of the year. When that is depends on where you live. In the Northern Hemisphere it is June 21st or 22nd, in the Southern Hemisphere it is December 21st or 22nd. I would suggest looking into the solar charts of you area to find out exactly when this day is for you.

The name Litha comes from the Saxons and their name for the month of June, which was Aerra Litha. They celebrated this day as the day when the Light won the battle over the darkness. They would make huge bonfires at the tops of hills in order to connect the earth with the sky. One tradition that is depicted in old artwork has the people of Europe lighting wheels on fire and rolling them into water to connect the worlds of fire and water. The purpose of this has been lost and some people aren’t sure that it ever happened at all since wheels were particularly expensive.

Early Christian Monks even marked this day on their calendars, who would also build bonfires in order to connect themselves with the heavens and honor the sky that was in between. There  are only a few surviving documents that talk about this so it is hard to know exactly what Christians did at this time, though it is commonly called St. Hans Day. However it has become St John the Baptists Day in modern reckoning.

This day was also the day when Roman pantheons celebrated the goddess Juno, also called Juna de Luna, or Juno of the Moon. Juno is the Wife of of Juiptor and the goddess of women, childbirth, and marriage. Making this the day when man Roman citizens would get married. When celebrating Juno for this festival one would take offerings of salted meats to her temples, and  some of the most devout would even fast themselves for eight days to get closer to the goddess, ask for her blessings on their home or ask her to give them the gift of a fertile union or an easy childbirth.

Midsummer holidays are still celebrated (thought not always realized) by the following countries:

  • Austria with ships and the lighting of old castles,
  • Brazil celebrate St. John’s Day,
  • Bulgaria also celebrates St. John’s Day and Enyovden,
  • Canada especially in Newfoundland where the celebrate the discovery of Newfoundland,
  • Denmark celebrates St. John’s Eve, or sankthans
  • Estonia celebrates John’s Day
  • Faroe Islands celebrates jóansøka or John’s Eve by lighting a bonfire
  • Finland originally celebrated Ukon juhla or Ukko’s Celebration after their Grandfather God Ukko, who was also a god of thunder and of the heavens. It was heralded by twin bonfires at the highest points available to a village with a great deal of dancing and feasting. Young maidens looking for fertility or suitors they would toss gifts into the fire in the hopes of getting one of these blessings. It is tradition for a woman seeking a husband to gather flowers from seven different types of flowers to make a bouquet to place under her pillow so that she might dream of her husband to be. It is still celebrated  and as of 1955 it is always celebrated on a Saturday. As Finland became more Christianized, however, they began to call this festival Johannes Döparen. The real name of John the Baptist.
  • France: Fête de la Saint-Jean, the Feast of Saint Jean.
  • Germany: Sommersonnenwende still celebrates the Old Feast, and I found this following snippet that amuses me:
    • On June 20, 1653 the Nuremburg town council issued the following order: “Where experience herefore have shown, that after the old heathen use, on John’s day in every year, in the country, as well in towns as villages, money and wood have been gathered by young folk, and there upon the so-called sonnenwendt or zimmet fire kindled, and thereat winebibbing, dancing about the said fire, leaping over the same, with burning of sundry herbs and flowers, and setting of brands from the said fire in the fields, and in many other ways all manner of superstitious work carried on — Therefore the Hon. Council of Nürnberg town neither can nor ought to forbear to do away with all such unbecoming superstition, paganism, and peril of fire on this coming day of St. John
  • Greece: does Klidonas for John the Baptist
  • Hungary traditonally did St. Ivan’s Night. Until the 19th century Hungary called the month of June the Month of St. Ivan. Bonfires were lit and young ladies would jump the fire while young men watched. However, around the 5th century Christanization shifted the festivity from the pagan Feast of St. Ivan to a festival for John the Baptist. However, in true Hungarian fashion, the far reaches of the country still celebrated the feast of Ivan up until the 1930’s.
  • Iran celebrates Jashn-e Tiregân which is a lovely and intricate festival that I wont belittle by summarizing it in a couple of sentences, however likemany of the midsumemr festivals it incorporates fire and water.
  • Ireland is famous for it’s midsummer carnivals which has bonfires, fireworks, festivals, carnivals, and is sometimes referred to as St. John’s Night.
  • Italy has celebrated St. John’s Day since the Renaissance. Especially in Genoa since St. John is the patron saint of this area.
  • Jersey while almost completely forgotten now Jersey used to celebrate Les cônes d'la Saint Jean all the way up till 1970.
  • Latvia, still recognizes the feast of Jāņi. Celebrated by eating special foods, drinking bear, dancing and singing as well as the traditional bonfire. Women wear flower wreaths and jump the bonfire, and the wearing of Oak leaves by the men. There are a thousand of smalelr traditions that vary from one city to the next for a miriad of reasons, I highly suggest looking into the festival.
  • Lithuania celebrates the Festival of St. Johannes.
  • Norway recognizes St. John’s Wake were many did a pilgrimage to a specific church. Also mock weddings, bonfires, and the wearing of flowers are nightly traditions. It is believed that if a girl puts flowers beneath her pillow on this night she will dream of her husband.
  • Poland people wear tradition polka garments, and girls throw flowers into the water to ask for blessings of love.
  • Portugal celebrates Santos Populares which is the Feast of Popular Saints. It is a VERY big festival with far too many intricacies and traditions for me to put here. But dancings, merriment, tricana girls, and much much more are traditional.
  • Romania actually has two festivals Drăgaica or Sânziene. For  Drăgaica five to seven girls form a group, one of them is called the Drăgaica. She is dresses as a bride with a wreath of flowers the others have crowns of wheat. They dance and form the center of merriment for this festival.  Sânziene is the romani word for the latin term Sancta Diana. The festival revolving around this concept is more erotic in nature and revolves around a woman’s marriage prospects.
  • Ukrane/Russia Ivan Kupala was the old Kyiv Rus’ name for John the Baptist. Up to the present day, the Rus’ Midsummer Night (or Ivan’s Day…we know Ivan’s Day…right?) is known as one of the most expressive Kyiv Rus’ folk and pagan holidays. Ivan Kupala Day is the day of summer solstice celebrated in Ukraine and Russia on June 23 and July 6. This is a pagan fertility rite, which has been accepted into the Orthodox Christian calendar. Bravo Russia/Ukrane. You kinda rock. Once again girls with flwoers are a large part of this festival, as well as water (girls would place flowers into water for blessing of sensuality and fertility) Bonfires which both men and women would jump over. Also, nude bathing is a thing. Lucky folks.
  • Slovenia: Kresna noč use to be celebrated on June 21., but during Jugoslavia holiday was changed with maj. 1, international workers day. Kresna noč was once associated with the Slavic god Kresnik, who was eventually replaced by St. John the Baptist.If you haven’t noticed a trend here…you really aren’t paying attention.
  • Serbia has a LOT of tradition here. However it should be noted that St. John is referred to at the Dancing Saint in Serbia and to dance around a fire on this day is traditional.
  • Spain….do you guys do anything small? Ever? Spain wins the cake for incorporating pagan traditions into modern christian festivals. Go look up midsummer in Spain…you’ll see what I mean. However Fire, Water, and Medicine are themes here.
  • Sweden may be one of the most traditional in their celebrating of midsummer. “In modern Sweden, Midsummer’s Eve and Midsummer’s Day (Midsommarafton and Midsommardagen) were formerly celebrated on 23 June and 24 June, but since 1953 the celebration has been moved to the Friday and Saturday between 19 June and 26 June with the main celebrations taking place on Friday. It is one of the most important holidays of the year in Sweden, and probably the most uniquely Swedish in the way it is celebrated. When Sweden got its National day (6 June), discussions were held about making Midsummer the Swedish national day because of the strong civil celebration on this day.”
  • certain parts of the United Kingdom celebrated traditional midsummer bonfires and feasts up until the 14th century.
  • and believe it or not The United States…seriously…look for local fairs around this holiday…you’ll notice there are about 30x more.

The God at Litha

  • This Holiday falls opposite Yule, and in such is associated with the God. On Litha the God in his Oak King or Green Man form is at his strongest. In certain wiccan traditions this is when the Holly King and the Oak king battle or change power, in others this is when the God becomes Father. This holiday is equal and opposite to Yule.

The Goddess at Litha

  • Any goddess who is associated with the Mother or Maternal aspects of the Goddess is accepted, however Juno is most notorious on this day.

Themes

  • Fire/Bonfires
    • You will notice that the lighting of bonfires is a huge part of this festival. Today is the day when light overtakes the dark. Light a bonfire as the sun disappears and keep it going as long as possible, traditionally all night.
  • Looking for a spouse
    • Once again, an ongoing theme for this festival is to gain the attention of a partner, particularly if you are female. Wear flowers and place them in water or put them beneath your pillow in order to gain a dream-like glimpse of your future partner.
  • From Dark to Light
    • The Wheel of the Year is split into two halve, the Light half of the Year and the Dark half of the year. Litha is the beginning of the Light half of the year and will continue until Yule.
  • Fertility and Motherhood
    • Yes, this is a holiday for the God of the Sun, but do not ignore the fact that the world is ripe and yielding it’s bounty unto us. The heat of the world gives forth to the fertility in those who are capable of giving birth. 
  • Being outside
    • If ever there was a festival where you should close up your computer, leave your phone at home, and just go outside to be outside…this is the day for it. From the time the sun is up until you can’t handle being around the bonfire another moment, go outside. Go for a nature walk, pack a picnic lunch, and plan for a BBQ. No seriously…BBQ…in the covens I have been a part of having a BBQ on this day is a two fold thing. First you have your fire, second you are outside. And who is gonna say no to an awesome BBQ? 

Foods

  • Lemon
  • Oranges
  • Citrus in general as they are big into the soaking up of the energy of the sun
  • Sunflowers
  • Berry Pies
  • Summer Squash
  • Honey
  • All locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Anything that can go on a grill but especially chicken or pork

Rituals and Ceremonies

  • What you want to do as you Litha Ritual is entirely up to you please check the Themes in this post to give you an idea for your intent.
  • Do not be too serious on this holiday. If there is a holiday that is all about celebration this one is it. Dance, sing, rejoice.
  • Getting in touch with the God. I know of many pagans who do not have the same connection with the God as they do with the Goddess. My whole hearted advice is to use this holiday and the holiday of Yule to change that. This holiday is fairly easy…go outside. Go play. Bask in the warmth of the sun and feel the heat not just on your skin but in your very heart.
  • All women, both with vaginas and without, go collect flowers. Collect them, wear them, and put them in the water or under your pillow. Even if you aren’t looking for a partner this helps reestablish a connection to the sun, the earth, and the God.
  • All men, with penises and without, collect wood for the bonfire. As you collect each stick think on the Green Man and let his spirit wake up in you.
  • I know I’ve said this like three times…but host a BBQ. Invite friends and family. Turn on your radio, laugh, sing, dance, eat drink and be merry. This is the best ritual that you can offer this day.
On the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we do not know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
—  John 20:1-8

@nikafoshure the reason that Christmas is in December appears to be because the Annunciation was celebrated in March (March 25th to be exact). The early Church fathers wanted to connect the Annunciation (the feast that celebrated the conception of Christ by the Virgin Mary) with Easter.

This was likely because there was an old Jewish tradition that said that a prophet of the Lord died on the same day that he or she was conceived. We know that Jesus would have died during the week of Passover, which followed a lunar calendar, so it moved around on the Gregorian calendar.

The Annunciation ended up being placed on a stationary feast day (March 25, to connect it to the usual timing for Passover) and was actually originally considered a much more important holiday than that of the Nativity, because the Age of Grace was thought to have begun with the appearance of Gabriel to Mary.

The feast of St. John the Baptist’s Nativity was then placed on June 25 to coincide with the gospel account of Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth while the latter was six months pregnant. Likewise, Christ’s Nativity was then placed in December to reflect a nine-month pregnancy following the Annunciation.

Tl;dr: The timing of Christmas has its roots in the timing of Easter, and its relationship to other winter holidays (Yule, Saturnalia, etc) is almost purely aesthetic.

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Happy Feast day of St John Vianney – August 4

 His work as a confessor is John Vianney’s most remarkable accomplishment. In the winter months he was to spend 11 to 12 hours daily reconciling people with God. In the summer months this time was increased to 16 hours. Unless a man was dedicated to his vision of a priestly vocation, he could not have endured this giving of self day after day St John Vianney died on 4 August 1859, Vianney died at age of 73 – his body is incorrupt and is entombed at the main altar in the Basilica of Ars, France.