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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 ; he was not himself the light, but was to give testimony concerning the light John —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 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.
Within Christian theology , this carries significance as John the Baptist "was understood to be preparing the way for Jesus", with John stating "He must increase, but I must decrease"; this is symbolized in the fact that the "sun begins to diminish at the summer solstice and eventually increases at the winter solstice.
In Florence , medieval midsummer celebrations were "an occasion for dramatic representations of the Baptist's life and death" and "the feast day was marked by processions, banquets, and plays, culminating in a fireworks show that the entire city attended.
John's Eve is first recorded as a popular custom by Jean Belethus , a theologian at the University of Paris, in the early twelfth century".
In the worship of St John, men waken at even, and maken three manner of fires: one is clean bones and no wood, and is called a bonfire; another is of clean wood and no bones, and is called a wakefire, for men sitteth and wake by it; the third is made of bones and wood, and is called St John's Fire.
The 13th-century monk of Winchcomb , Gloucestershire, who compiled a book of sermons for Christian feast days, recorded how St.
John's Eve was celebrated in his time:. Let us speak of the revels which are accustomed to be made on St.
John's Eve, of which there are three kinds. On St. John's Eve in certain regions the boys collect bones and certain other rubbish, and burn them, and therefrom a smoke is produced on the air.
They also make brands and go about the fields with the brands. Thirdly, the wheel which they roll. Saint John's Fires, explained the monk of Winchcombe, were to drive away dragons , which were abroad on St.
John's Eve, poisoning springs and wells. The wheel that was rolled downhill he gave its explanation: "The wheel is rolled to signify that the sun then rises to the highest point of its circle and at once turns back; thence it comes that the wheel is rolled.
On St John's Day Petrarch watched women at Cologne rinsing their hands and arms in the Rhine "so that the threatening calamities of the coming year might be washed away by bathing in the river.
These were called bonfires as well of good amity amongst neighbours that, being before at controversy, were there by the labour of others reconciled, and made of bitter enemies, loving friends, as also for the birtue that a great fire hat to purge the infection of the air.
On the vigil of St John Baptist and St Peter and Paul the Apostles, every man's door being shadowed with green birch, long fennel, St John's Wort, Orpin, white lillies and such like, garnished upon with garlands of beautiful flowers, had also lamps of glass, with oil burinin in them all night, some hung branches of iron curiously wrought, containing hundreds of lamps lit at once, which made goodly show.
These fires are commonly called Saint John's Fires in various languages. Historian Ronald Hutton states that the "lighting of festive fires upon St.
John the Baptist, who was 'a burning and shining light,' and the preparer of the way of Christ. So it was formerly also in Sweden and Finland , but in these countries it was, in the s, moved to the Friday and Saturday between June 19 and June 26, respectively.
It is possible that the Christian Church may have adapted a pre-Christian festival celebrating the solstice into a Christian holiday.
In Austria, the Midsummer solstice is celebrated each year with a procession of ships down the Danube River as it flows through the wine-growing Wachau Valley north of Vienna.
Up to 30 ships sail down the river in line as fireworks erupt from the banks and hill tops while bonfires blaze and the vineyards are lit up.
Lighted castle ruins also erupt with fireworks during the minute cruise downstream. Portuguese St. John's Day, brought to Brazil during colonial times, has become a popular event that is celebrated during a period that starts one week before St.
Anthony's Day June 12 and ends after St. Peter's Day June Rural life is celebrated through typical clothing, food, and dance particularly square dancing , or quadrilha.
The quadrilha features couple formations around a mock wedding whose bride and groom are the central attraction of the dancing. A kind of maypole called "pau-de-sebo" is also raised and used in some festivities.
John's Day eve celebration, sometimes a ritual takes place of walking barefoot at midnight on live-coal made of the remnants of the main bonfire, which is a traditional part of the party.
It's believed that if the one who walks is strong in faith, he shall not be hurt. The festivities also coincide with the corn harvest, dishes served during this period are commonly made with corn, such as canjica and pamonha ; dishes also include boiled or baked vegetable corn often buttered , sausages, sweet potatoes, peanuts, and numerous sweet dishes such as rice pudding.
The celebrations are very colorful and festive and include the use of fireworks and bonfires. On Midsummer day, Bulgarians celebrate Enyovden.
On the same day, the Eastern Orthodox church celebrates the day of John the Baptist and the rites and traditions of both holidays are often mixed.
A fire-related ritual may also be performed in Bulgaria on that day; it involves barefoot dance on smoldering embers and is called Nestinarstvo.
Anyone seeing the sunrise will be healthy throughout the year. It is believed that on Enyovden a variety of herbs have the greatest healing power, and that this is especially true at sunrise.
Therefore, they have to be picked early in the morning before dawn. Women — sorceresses and enchantresses — go to gather herbs by themselves to cure and make charms.
The herbs gathered for the winter must be 77 and a half — for all diseases and for the nameless disease. In Newfoundland and Labrador , St.
John's Day is observed on the Monday nearest June 24 and commemorates John Cabot 's discovery of Newfoundland in Great fires were lit at night.
In , Ludger Duvernay , printer and editor of La Minerve took the leadership of an effort to make June 24 the national holiday of the Canadiens French Canadians.
In , June 24 became a legal holiday in Quebec and in , it became the secular National Holiday of Quebec. It still is the tradition to light great fires on the night of the 24th of June.
The tradition of Sveti Ivan Krstitelj St. The people light large bonfires in the name of Saint John Baptist, and the celebration can also be connected to the old Slavic traditions for Kresnik South Slavic version of Perun the god of Sun.
John Baptist is the patron and their tradition is different. The village folk and especially children bring firewood to a designated place, and then a bonfire is lit at sunset, after the bonfire burns out the children jump, walk or run on the embers of the bonfire because it is believed their feet won't hurt if they do that.
There is also the tradition of which village makes the bigger bonfire, a competition that the village folk will talk and boast about tomorrow after the church Eucharist ceremony.
In Denmark , the solstitial celebration is called sankthans or sankthansaften "St. John's Eve". It was an official holiday until , and in accordance with the Danish tradition of celebrating a holiday on the evening before the actual day, it takes place on the evening of 23 June.
It is the day where the medieval wise men and women the doctors of that time would gather special herbs that they needed for the rest of the year to cure people.
Bonfires on the beach, speeches, picnics and songs are traditional, although they are built in many other places where beaches may not be close by i.
Bonfires are lit in order to repel witches and other evil spirits ,  with the burnings sending the "witch" away to Bloksbjerg, the Brocken mountain in the Harz region of Germany where the great witch gathering was thought to be held on this day.
Some Danes regard this tradition of burning witches as inappropriate. In Scandinavia, young people visited holy springs as "a reminder of how John the Baptist baptised Christ in the River Jordan.
On Saint John's Eve and Saint John's Day, churches arrange Saint John's worship services and family reunions also occur, which are an occasion for drinking and eating.
In , Holger Drachmann wrote a midsommervise Midsummer hymn called "Vi elsker vort land Lange-Müller that is sung at most bonfires on this evening.
Jaanipäev "Jaan's Day" or "St. John's Day" in English was celebrated long before the arrival of Christianity in Estonia , although the day was given its name by the crusaders.
The day is still known by its many names as: leedopäev , suvine pööripäiv , suvepööripäev , püäripääv , päevakäänak , päiväkäänäk , päiväkäändjäne , päevapesa , pesapäev and suured päevad.
The arrival of Christianity, however, did not end pagan beliefs and fertility rituals surrounding this holiday. In , Balthasar Russow wrote in his Livonian Chronicle about Estonians who placed more importance on the festival than going to church.
He complained about those who went to church, but did not enter, and instead spent their time lighting bonfires, drinking, dancing, singing and following pagan rituals.
Midsummer marks a change in the farming year, specifically the break between the completion of spring sowing and the hard work of summer hay-making.
Understandably, some of the rituals of Jaanipäev have very strong roots. One of the best-known midsummer ritual is the lighting of the bonfire and jumping over it Eastern Estonian tradition.
Reservations Delivery. Book now. Order now. Supposedly, the highest jump of the evening predicted the height of crops for the new harvest season.
There are also Pagan traditions associated with Midsummer. These celebrations of summer solstice go back thousands of years to ancient beliefs in the power of the sun.
Pagans made annual visits to Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, England and joined in all-night celebrations, while awaiting the first light of dawn.
It lies northeast of the city centre on the south bank of the River Cam. The common borders the River Cam and houseboats are often moored on the common's bank.
The boathouses of most of the colleges of Cambridge University are on the opposite bank. A vigil and lantern floating ceremony took place on the common on Hiroshima Memorial Day in Cambridge Midsummer Fair was granted a charter by King John in , and was originally held on or near the feast of St Etheldreda.
Originally a trade fair, income from the event went to the Barnwell Priory. The latter right in particular was hotly disputed.
In more recent times it has become a pleasure fair with amusements taking the place of trade in goods. On 7 April , when there had been no cattle on the common for a number of years, a small number of Red Poll bullocks, owned by a Cambridge resident, were introduced to the common.
The grazing of cattle on the common is controversial, given the other uses to which the common is put, which may conflict with grazing.
The theatre has played an important role in Oxfords history, and visitors are invited to step inside and explore this unique building. Take a walk around Bodleian Library The world-famous Bodleian Libraries is a must-see cultural destination in the heart of Oxford.
The principal University library — the Bodleian Library — was established in and takes its name from the founder, Sir Thomas Bodley.
The history of the libraries dates back to approximately when the first purpose-built university library was established Oxford River Cruises Oxford River Cruises provides a range of luxury boat trips, sightseeing tours and unique picnic cruises in the heart of the historic city of Oxford.
Their vessels provide a comfortable and intimate setting for an unforgettable river experience and one of the most memorable things to do during your visit to Oxford.
Public Cruises can Bicester Heritage Bicester Heritage is home to the nationally known, laid-back Sunday Scramble open day event and more.
Their unique and beautiful site makes the perfect venue for these relaxed, informal motoring events, creating a time-warp atmosphere unlike any other location.
Set to return for the 2nd They are for all walking abilities and cover a maximum of 2 miles with tours lasting 1 to 2 hours,
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