John has long been thought of as one of the greatest saints. He was the one who foretold the coming of Christ. In Luke 1:17 the role of John is referred to as being “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” He was given the name John the Baptist because he baptized people – including Jesus.
The Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:36, 56-57) states that John was born about six months before Jesus. That’s why the early Christian church chose June 24th as the feast of John the Baptist, because it’s six months before Christmas. This feast day is one of the very few saint’s days to mark the anniversary of the birth, rather than the death, of a saint.
The Feast of Saint John also coincides with the June solstice referred to as Midsummer. In many Mediterranean countries the summer solstice is dedicated to Saint John. The associated ritual is very similar to midsummer celebrations in the pagan tradition, with festivals and the lighting of bonfires.
READ: Who Was John the Baptist (Christian Courier)
WATCH: John the Baptist Interactive DVD (NEST Learning)
COLOR: John baptizing Jesus in the Jordan River (printable coloring page)