June 24, 2010
Today is the Feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptist. this is one of the oldest and most popular feasts of the calendar, partially because it falls so close to the solstice, and therefore "baptized" old Pagan solstice festivities. (It is also, the day that is farthest away in the calendar from Christmas Eve--back when the Christian calendar was the calendar that defines our seasons, this clearly had some significance which is now lost.) St. John is the patron of half a billion things, including: baptisms, epilepsy, the Diocese of Charleston South Carolina, and of Portland, Maine, half the towns in Italy, Jordan (obviously), Quebec & all of French Canada, tailors (this cracks me up), and convulsive children.
In French Canada, the feast is a day for drunken revelry. The streets of the finest walled city in North America, Quebec, smell like stale beer for a good week following the all night parades and parties. Like most manifestations of religion in French Canada, the day has become a holiday of nationalism, rather than a feast of a great Saint.
In Barcelona, according to our friend, the Courtier, it is also a day--or rather night--of great festivity--and a lot of fire. One of the common customs of La Nit de Sant Joan is to build a fire in the streets, and throw slips of paper with their sins written on them into the flames.
Well, I shan't be doing that, though I do foresee some sparklers in my near future. Instead, I think I'll head across the street for confession and Mass this afternoon. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!