June 24th is the feast of the Birth of John the Baptist. With Christ born on the 25th of December, that puts the Annunciation to Mary on the 25th of March (nine months earlier). Since Gabriel told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was in her 6th month, that puts the birth of John on the 24th of June. Of course the gospels don’t give us dates for any of these events. But that is how we have come to celebrate them, with the two great birth feasts at opposite ends of the year, tied to the winter and summer solstices. St John’s Day is traditionally a time for feasts and processions, and the evening before, bonfires (like the one pictured above in France). In the old English tradition of naming a saint’s day by adding “mass” onto the endo of their name it was once known as “Johnsmas.” But falling at the time of year it does, it was more commonly known as Midsummer’s Day. (Which makes the night before a good night for dreaming according to Shakespeare.) In any case, looking back to where our lives were 6 months ago it’s maybe a good time to celebrate God bringing new life to a woman who was thought not to be able to have children, in the midst of a warm summer’s day. And to give thanks for the life God is bringing us.