Saint John’s Eve, starting at sunset on 23 June, is the eve of celebration before the Feast of Saint John the Baptist. This feast day is one of the few saints’ days which commemorates the anniversary of the birth, rather than the death, of the saint being honored.
Within Christian theology, this carries significance as John the Baptist stating, “He must increase, but I must decrease”; this is symbolized in the fact that the sun begins to diminish at the summer solstice and eventually increases at the winter solstice.
Fire is the most typical element associated with the Saint John’s Eve celebration. The historian Ronald Hutton states that the “lighting of festive fires upon St. John’s Eve is first recorded in the early twelfth century”.