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Catholic Activity: Johannesfeuer

As far back as the eighth century bonfires were being lit in honor of the precursor of Christ—the Johannesfeuer — as a special solemnity.


In the old world, the young people of the villages and towns take kindling wood up the mountains or outside of town to some beautiful spot on a river bank. Before it is lit a few words point out the significance of this fire at the height of the year, at the beginning of summer when the nights are shortest; and the symbolism of fire and light in relation to that radiant figure, the Baptist. "He was a burning and a shining light: and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light" (John 5:35). When the flames are leaping up, everybody present joins in singing one of the old songs of the occasion. When the fire is burning low, everyone leaps over it — boys and girls holding hands and leaping by twos. Then they settle down around the fire for the fire-watch until the last spark has died out.

Activity Source: Around the Year with the Trapp Family by Maria Augusta Trapp, Pantheon Books Inc., New York, New York, 1955

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