All religions have had certain days consecrated to festive enjoyrnent, hence called festivals. Sir Isaac Newton (on Daniel, page 204) says:
The heathen were delighted with the festivals of their gods, and unwilling to part with these delights, and therefore, Gregory Thaumaturgus, who died in 265, and was Bishop of Neocaesarea, to facilitate their conversion instituted annual festivals to the saints and martyrs. Hence it came to pass that, for exploding the festivals of the heathens, the principal festivals of the Christians succeeded in their room: as the keeping of Christmas with joy, and feasting, and playing, and sports, in the room of the Bacchinatia and Satumlia; the celebrating of May day with flowers, in the room of the floral and the keeping of festivals to the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist and divers of the apostles, in the room of the solemnities at the entrance of the sun into the signs of the Zodiac in the old Julian Calendar.
The Freemasons, borrowing from and imitating the usage of the Church, have also always had their festivals or days of festivity and celebration. The chief festivals of the Operatives or Stonemasons of the Middle Ages were those of Saint John the Baptist on June 24, and the Four Crowned Martyrs on the 8th of November. The latter was, however, discarded by the Speculative Freemasons; and the festivals now most generally celebrated by the Fraternity are those of Saint John the Baptist, June 24, and Saint John the Evangelist, December 27. These are the days kept in the United States. Such, too, was formerly the case in England; but the annual festival of the Grand Lodge of England now falls on the Wednesday following Saint George's day, April 23, that Saint being the patron of England. For a similar reason, Saint Andrew's day, November 30, is kept by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. In Ireland the festival kept is that of Saint John on December 27.
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