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Catholic Activity: St. John's Eve



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On the eve of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, people from Yorkshire had a wonderful tradition of providing tables of food and drink for newcomers to the community. The author gives some suggestions on how to do a variance of this practice.


This custom was still observed in Yorkshire as recently as 1826, when it was described as being of great antiquity. On St. John's eve every family who had come to live in the parish within the last year would put a table outside their houses, place on it bread and cheese and beer and offer this to anyone who passed by. Any of the parish might help themselves, and if the fortunes of the family ran to it, would be invited indoors for a further supper and a festive evening spent in the family circle. By this means the newcomers to the parish made many acquaintances and friends, and were helped to see themselves as having a definite place in the local community. One cannot advocate the setting up of tables full of food in the streets nowadays, but the chance need not be missed of helping newcomers to make friends. There are far more lonely people, often converts, in every parish than one might think. On St. John's eve it could be possible to arrange an open house among the youth groups, or the different sodalities, or even in various families, to which all the newcomers in the parish could be invited, this with the definite idea of making them feel at home and part of the parish community.

Activity Source: Candle is Lighted, A by P. Stewart Craig, The Grail, Field End House, Eastcote, Middlesex, 1945