The Vigil of St. John: bonfires and witch burnings, solstices and snails
It is nice to have as your Patron the great Baptist, for I get two feasts a year, his Nativity and his Beheading.
For the Vigil of St. John (today, as I write) in the old Roman Ritual the priest would once bless bonfires!
And in Bavaria, witches are burned! A priest friend who shares my feast sent me a spiffing photo (below – a little hard to see at this size, but I assure you, there is a witch in there):
If you have any unwanted witches, send them to Bavaria next year for a nice vacation.
In other places, cast-off or unneeded things are burned… in a way parallel, I suppose, to throwing things away at the other end of the year after the Winter Solstice.
This is custom calls to mind that many places celebrated the feasts of saints with great festivity.
In any event, have a nice bonfire! The evening is about as long as the year can offer, so a great party could be had well into the night with much cooking in the open and revelry.
The blessing for the bonfire is beautiful. After the usual introduction, the priest would bless the fire saying:
Lord God, almighty Father, the light that never