Updated: Oct 4
We hear the words mid-summer and solstice a lot this time of the year. Solstice follows the sun, marking the day of the year with the longest daylight. Although mid-summer celebrations pre-date Christianity, today Mid-summer is fixed on the 24th June and is also known as Saint Johns Tide. This day is said to be the birth day of John the Baptist.
In Christianity John the Baptist Is known as the cousin of Jesus Christ, and is is understood in the New Testament that he paved the way for Christs coming, John the Baptist is remembered for his devotion to a higher purpose, for preparing the way for the spirit
Professor Éamonn Ó Carragáin, from the University College Cork eloquently explains the relationship between John the Baptist, Christ and the Solar Cycle.
By the sixth century, this solar cycle was completed by balancing Christ's conception and birth against the conception and birth of his cousin, John the Baptist. Such a relationship between Christ and his cousin was amply justified by the imagery of scripture. The Baptist was conceived six months before Christ (Luke 1:76); he was not himself the light, but was to give testimony concerning the light (John 1:8–9). Thus John's conception was celebrated on the eighth kalends of October (24 September: near the autumn equinox) and his birth on the eighth kalends of July (24 June: near the Summer solstice). If Christ's conception and birth took place on the 'growing days', it was fitting that John the Baptist's should take place on the 'lessening days' ('diebus decrescentibus'), for the Baptist himself had proclaimed that 'he must increase; but I must decrease' (John 3:30). By the late sixth century, the Nativity of John the Baptist (24 June) had become an important feast, counterbalancing at midsummer the midwinter feast of Christmas. —Professor Éamonn Ó Carragáin
Through his coming into the world, Christians believe he brought a new dawn, and through his light they begin to see the one who is all light ‘Jesus Christ’ so as the nights slowly draw in over the next six months Christians start to look forward to the winter solstice, the coming light. Christ the light in the darkness, advent and Christmas celebrations.
St John’s tide celebrations.
Traditionally St Johns Tide is celebrated on St Johns Eve, a tradition originating in pagan times, lighting bonfires on hill tops add warmth and fire to help in the renewal of the suns energy. St Johns Tide is a day to collect herbs and plants such as elderflower and St Johns Wort, all in bloom at this time of year. People traditionally would collect posies of these flowers and have them blessed by a priest.
Saint John was a devout and holy man who was martyred for his convictions and beliefs. He was beheaded by King Herod and until his death he always stood by the principles and convictions of honesty, spiritual and inner growth, kindness and help to others and shining the light for mankind. He is often associated with the symbol of a seed ~ he sowed the seed that is the teacher of the Gospel, that is Christ. Many of Christs early followers were actually followers of John before he made it known Christ was the Messiah.
With that in mind at this time of year, I like to remember that association. To plant a seed in my own heart and use the months ahead for personal growth, and inner reflection ahead of the returning light at the Winter Solstice. This time of year is certainly a great time for personal growth in many ways with the long days and milder weather.
St Johns Seasonal Table
To celebrate the day and is significance in our own personal journey I have created a little image this morning for the seasonal table if you click on free downloads and visit the artwork folder you will find it to download in there, you can also make the little tissue paper St Johns Wort flower below!
You will need
Yellow and Orange Tissue Paper
Wire or green pipe cleaners
If you are using a pipe cleaner, I advise to trim them to make them less fluffy as the tissue paper can easily rip - if you are using wire you may want to wrap it in coloured paper first.
First cut a flower with five petals from the yellow tissue, make sure the centre is big enough so it wont rip when the wire is passed through.
Then cut a rectangle from Orange paper - fold in half and trim to make a fringe leaving half a centimetre or so, glue along the edge which is not cut and roll around one end of the pipe cleaner.
Once that is secure, pass your flower up the pip cleaner from the other end, and its done!
Simple quick and easy! If you are doing this with children make the flower bigger to allow them to make them with ease, why not make a display of different coloured flowers to celebrate the day!