St. John The Baptist Day, a.k.a. St. John's Day, (June 24) and the day before St. John's Eve (June 23) is the day celebrating the birthday of John The Baptist. Due to it's proximity to the Summer Solstice, many of the old pagan customs celebrating Midsummer have been assimilated into practices associated with this day.
St. John The Baptist Day and the evening before it, are important to a variety of religions and groups. St. John's Eve is one of the most important holiday in Louisiana Voodoo or New Orleans Voodoo. Famed Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau held cleansings at Bayou St. John in the morning and dances at Congo Square in New Orleans on this evening, in honor of the Voodoo spirits called Loa. Some even believe that Marie Laveau rises from the grave on St. John's Eve in order to take place in Voodoo rituals. St. John The Baptist Day is also sacred to practitioners of Haitian Voodou as well as the religion of Santeria. For Hoodoo practitioners or rootworkers/conjure workers, St. John's Eve & St. John's Day also plays an important role as it is believed that St. John's Eve is the most powerful day of the year for the performing of work, good or bad. Voodoo worshippers honor Ogoun/Ogun, the spirit of iron, war and technology on this day. St. John The Baptist Day also has special significance to Freemasons. Of course the day still retains much of the older pagan folk customs prior to the arrival of Christianity.
Customs or practices associated with St. John's Eve and St. John's Day reflect the old pagan practices such as building bonfires and also include the gathering of St. John's wort, one of the strongest plants with the magical reputation of protection against evil. Today the herb is more commonly employed to treat depression.
An unusual fact concerning St. John The Baptist Day is that it is perhaps the only feast day honoring the birthday of a saint and not the anniversary of the saint's death (August 29). Because of such, it is possible that the day was specifically chosen to be honored by the church in order to assimilate the pagans.
St. John's Eve - New Orleans' Voodoo Ritual