John the Baptist’s birthday is celebrated on June 24. The purpose of the festival is not to celebrate the exact dates of these events, but simply to commemorate them in an interlinking way. The Nativity of John the Baptist anticipates the feast of Christmas.
From his birth the days get shorter until they point to the feast day on the other side of the year…six months from now when the light comes into the world.
Half way through the year, on June 24, we stop to celebrate the birth of John the Baptist. His birth holds significance in many ways. Only 3 months prior, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to let her know that God had chosen her to bear his son. Gabriel then gave that great news to her cousin Elizabeth, John’s mother.
John very literally, prepared the way for Jesus. 6 months later, Jesus was born and as an adult, John prepared the way for Jesus as he baptized believers.
The celebration of John the Baptist takes place around the summer solstice. The days begin getting shorter and darker until the birth of Jesus, when slowly the days lengthen and light returns. John’s whole life, even where his birthday is situated in the liturgical year, all points to, “Let me decrease, may he increase. May I fade away and may the light of Jesus come into the world.” That’s how we should live our everyday life—it’s not about us, it’s about him. And that’s how we become fully ourselves.