Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Feast of St. John

Much to my disappointment, though I have assiduously ransacked the internet for the better part of the evening, looking for a hymn, song or carol proper to this feast day, I have turned up very little worth talking about. There is a very fine website dedicated to hymns and carols of Christmas, which contains a list of hymns in honour of St. John, and the lyrics as well. I had hoped for find one of the old, Middle English carols to post - I particularly liked the lyrics to To The Now, Crystys Der Darling - but my ambitions came to not.

Instead, I shall draw your attention to a rather interesting tradition for the Feast of St. John. According to legend, St. John was given a cup of poisoned wine to drink, but he blessed it, and the poison came out of the wine in the shape of a serpent. In memory of this miracle, it used to be the custom for wine to be blessed in honour of St. John. The faithful would serve the blessed wine at the main meal. The wine would be poured into glasses, and the father of the family would raise his glass in toast to the mother, saying, "I drink you the love of St. John." The resonse would be, "I thank you for the love of St. John." Then the mother would give the toast to the oldest child, who would in turn, give it to the next, until the love of St. John had been passed around the table. Sometimes the wine would be prepared before hand according to the following recipe:

St. John's Love (serves 8)

1 quart red wine
3 whole cloves
1/16 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 two-inch cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar

Pour the wine into a large saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients. Boil for 5 minutes or so. Serve hot. with the toast "Drink the love of St. John!"

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