The Solemnity for the birth of John the Baptist.

During the liturgical year the Church commemorates three birthdays, those of Christ, St. Mary and St. John the Baptist. St. John the Baptist, who was six months older than Jesus, was designated to be his forerunner, and to prepare the way before him. For this reason the Church teaches that St. John the Baptist was cleansed of original sin before his birth.

In the Gospel of St. Luke we hear that he lived in the wilderness proclaiming repentance and baptism to the many people who came to him. He pointed several times at Jesus. “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” “Make ready the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

This Solemnity consists of two masses, the Vigils on June 23 and High Mass on June 24. The celebration was even more extensive in earlier times, with vigils, three masses on the feast day and octave, just like our present Christmas celebration.

We should not forget the popular festivities on this day, with bonfires, traditional food (In Norway on this day: Rømmegrøt and spekemat) and dances. And not least – going to church to celebrate Mass.