Wednesday, June 23, 2010
St. John's Day
Today, is Midsummer Eve, St. John's Eve, June 23, so allow me to introduce you to June 24th, St. John's Day.
It is named after John the Baptist, in celebration of his birth date. The feast day of his birth (June 24) became celebrated more solemnly than that marking his martyrdom by beheading (August 29). This is unusual but then "strange" and June 24th go hand and hand.
On June 24, 2011, in one year and counting, the Mac '65 Reunion, in conjunction with the Classes of 1966 and 1967, will open. Did the planners realize the highly symbolic significance of this date to those born in 1947? It is doubtful, so let me share some fun facts.
Throughout Europe, and via the United Kingdom, St. John's Day's symbolism spread to the USA. In the UK, and especially, Scotland, bonfires are a key. Should we be surprised to find it so in North America?
St. John’s Day (”Jaanipäev”) is a major traditional holiday in Estonia, celebrated by singing around bonfires, in Estonian communities in the United States and Canada as well as in Estonia itself. The glow-worm, because it usually starts appearing around St. John’s Day, is called “Jaaniuss”–”St. John’s Worm” – in Estonian.
In France, the "Fête de la Saint-Jean" (feast of St John), traditionally celebrated with bonfires (le feu de la Saint-Jean) that are reminiscent of Midsummer's pagan rituals, is a catholic festivity in celebration of Saint John the Baptist. It takes place on June 24, on Midsummer day (St. John's day). In certain French towns, a tall bonfire is built by the inhabitants in order to be lit on St. John's Day. In medieval times, this festival was celebrated with cat-burning rituals.
Of course, there will be no cat burnings during Mac's St. John's Day Reunion celebration. But a bonfire might be in order. Fire in the sky is a major underlying theme of this day.
Does the name Kenneth Arnold (pictured below) ring a bell? He wasn't a graduate of the Class of 1965, was he? No. But the year we are were all born or nearly so was an important one for Arnold. Little do most people in the Class of 1965, know or realize but most of us entered life at the same time the Era of Flying Saucers also did, thanks to the specific events of June 24, 1947.
Additionally, the date has a long history of notable events. Take, for example, a look at some of these:
Knights Templars first display the "Mysterious Head" at Poitiers (1308);
Founding of the Order of the Garter occurs (1348);
King Henry VI founds Eton College (1441);
John Cabot discovers North America (1497);
Samuel de Champlain discovers the mouth of the Saint John River, site of Reversing Falls and the present day city of Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada (1604);
Galileo is released (1633);
"Woman of the Wilderness" utopian community arrives in America (1694);
"Woman of the Wilderness" angelic visions take place (1701);
Grand Lodge of Freemasons, the first Masonic Lodge in the World, is inaugurated (1717);
Ambrose Bierce is born (1842);
Red rain falls, Italy (1877);
Ice fall occurs, Ft. Lyon, Colorado (1877);
Fall of jelly-like mass occurs, Eton (1911);
Fred Hoyle is born (1915);
Mick Fleetwood is born (1942); and
Jeff Beck is born (1944).
This date will forever be tied to the first day of "flying saucer" history, due to the now-famous Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams, Washington State sighting by Kenneth Arnold of disc-shaped objects in the sky (1947).
Other "fiery" anniversaries date to that year, as well:
Filmstock fire kills seventeen people, Brussels (1947);
Movie theaters evaluated during huge fire, Perth Amboy, NJ (1947);
United Airlines plane is struck by lightning over Cleveland (1947);
Invasion of grasshoppers is battled with flame-throwers, Guatemala/El Salvador (1947); and
Woman is attacked and killed by bees or wasps, Seattle (1947).
On the 60th anniversary, in 2007, the infamous Angora Fire starts near South Lake Tahoe, California destroying over 200 structures in its first 48 hours. What events have dotted your past histories from this point on the calendar?
Strangely, the deaths of various phenomena researchers, writers, and fans have occurred on this date, as well. These include Frank Scully, June 24, 1964; Frank Edwards, near the coming midnight of the 24th, still on June 23, 1967; Arthur Bryant, June 24, 1967; Richard Church June 24, 1967; Willy Ley, June 24, 1969; Jackie Gleason (who was an every advocate of the flying saucers), June 24, 1987.
In years gone by, June 24th has been a focus of cryptid milestones, including:
Bigfoot sightings occur, Logan and Union counties, Ohio (1980);
Chupacabras are encountered outside disco, Maria Elena, Argentina (2000);
Moose hunters see Bigfoot, near Fort Simpson, NWT, Canada (2002);
Mysterious fire erupts in Gallipolis, Ohio resident's car on bridge from Ohio to Point Pleasant, West Virginia, site of the Mothman lore (2003);
Massive unusual aerial phenomena is seen, Xalapa, Mexico (2005);
"Aren't You Chupacabra to See Me?" airs for first time on Cartoon Network (2005); and
Nestle uses Bigfoot-costumed marchers to launch Kit Kat Limited Edition – Cappuccino at the Giant Mahkota Parade, Malacca, and Jusco Tebrau City, Johor (2005).
In 2006, coincidentally, the grand opening of the Bates College Museum of Art's "Cryptozoology: Out of Time Place Scale" exhibition occurred on June 24th. Also on June 24, 2006, this date saw the death of renegade publisher Lyle Stuart who published anomalist writer Frank Edwards' Fortean books, with the first one in 1959 being Stranger than Science, a paperbook full of information on unexplained phenomena.
The birth of members of the Class of 1965 in 1947 built to a peak of strange happenings by June 24, 1947. Flying saucers. Unexplained events. Mysterious fiery outbursts. Strange cryptid sightings. Beltane fires. Little people. Miracles. Bathing. Round dances. Collecting of glowworms. Folkloric incidents. Weird encounters.
From what you know in your heart, you could say that we were a class born with fire in our belly. We have carried on that tradition and passion way beyond any vision we could have ever had. It has been an amazing journey. And we are not done.
Respect the wonder and adventure of the 24th of June.
What cosmic finger of fate caused the Mac '65 reunion committee to pick the date they did for the upcoming reunion? Certainly, I was not consulted, so don't blame me. But I am here to tell you they could not have picked a more special date in the 1947 historical calendar.
What special events will be in the mix on this date in 2011, on the 64th anniversary of the beginning of the Age of Flying Saucers and the 46th anniversary of the graduation of the Class of 1965? Stay tuned.