From the Master of Kadosh (December, 2013)

posted May 30, 2015, 3:24 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 30, 2015, 3:24 PM ]
In about 300 A.D., the Christian Church began to dedicate popular pagan feast days to the Saints. December 27th, the shortest day, was dedicated to St. John the Evangelist while June 24th, the longest day of the year, was declared St. John the Baptist day. Collectively, Masons refer to them as the Holy Saints John. In an earlier publication of the Rite Word, I mentioned that on June 24th, Freemasons celebrate the Feast of St. John Baptist. As we enter the month of December, it seems proper to mention/discuss the other member of the oft referenced pair, St. John the Evangelist, who’s specific Feast Day is celebrated on December 27th.   
Freemasonry historically acknowledges St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist as its patron saints, reveres their memory, points to their exemplary lives in its ritualistic work, and dedicates its Lodges to them. Because St John the Evangelist finished, by his learning, what the other began by his zeal, and thus drew a second line parallel to the former, Freemason's lodges in all Christian countries, have been dedicated to both of these worthy and worshipful men."
“There is, in every regular and well governed Lodge, a certain point within a circle, embordered by two parallel perpendicular lines. . .. “
John the Baptist was zealous, while John the Evangelist was learned, and by picking both of them as patron saints, Masons symbolically united both passion and reason. They have been depicted by a symbol, published in the earlier article, in which the lines and circle denote the boundaries by which a Mason is to circumscribe his actions. Depicting the Saints John in this way seems particularly apt. They border the individual Mason like an embodiment of Time - perhaps the beginning and end of a year, perhaps the elapse of a lifetime. Both men also embody certain important, universal characteristics. Saint John the Baptist is considered a zealous man of action, Saint John the Evangelist a man of learning, meditation, and vision. Together, the two represent a balance between fraternal zeal and learned equilibrium, qualities which all Freemasons should strive to emulate. The symbol implies that a Mason should work and strive to achieve the proper balance between passion and intensity on one side, and knowledge and education on the other. In other words, he should balance education, excitement and faith to effectively subdue his passions. In a way, it is a graphic representation of the conscience.
Around 300 B.C.E., the Romans re-arranged their calendar to specially honor the winter solstice. A weeklong festival, called Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (Birthday of the Unconquered Sun), began on December 21, had its main feast day on December 25, and ended on December 27. This festival featured feasting, dancing, bonfires, decorating homes with greens, and gift giving. As Christianity became the state religion of the Empire, the summer solstice was rededicated to St. John the Baptist (who by tradition was born six months before Jesus), December 25 to the birth of Jesus, and December 27 to St. John the Evangelist. As the Church began to dedicate popular pagan feast days to the Saints, June 24th, the longest day of the year, was declared St. John the Baptist day, while December 27th, the shortest day, was dedicated to St. John the Evangelist and these feast days continued under the Church of England. Collectively, Masons refer to them as the Holy Saints John. 
In that earlier publication of the Rite Word, I noted that on June 24th, Freemasons celebrate the Feast of St. John the Baptist. As we enter the month of December, it is only proper to mention/discuss the other member of that oft referenced pair, St. John the Evangelist, whose specific Feast Day is celebrated on December 27th.  
 During Europe’s “Middle Ages,” St. John the Evangelist’s Day, also known as the third day of Christmas, was a particularly popular holiday. Wine or hard cider was brought to the local church for a blessing. The wine was later consumed - no doubt heartily - with the toast, “Drink the love of Saint John.”
More information about the Feast of St. John the Evangelist can be found in the Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs by Fr. Francis X. Weiser, SJ:
Wishing you all a very Happy Holiday Season, a hearty toast or two, perhaps in the name of St. John the Evangelist and a Happy and Prosperous New year.
Compiled and edited from several Masonic publications and articles authored by RW Yoel Lee,  Bro. Robert Blackburn, and others whose works I gratefully acknowledge.

Gerald R Best, KCCH  
2013 Master of Kadosh