"Summer Christmas" is the Birthday of St John the Baptist and 10 Amazing Facts to Share about this Saintly Cousin of Jesus!

Did you know? Summer Christmas is the Birthday of St John the Baptist! Here are 10 Amazing Facts to Share about this Saintly Cousin of Jesus!   Jesus says in Matthew 11:11 “Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”  
1. St. John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, is considered the “last prophet of the Old Testament,” and the precursor, “forerunner of Christ,” or the “glorious prophet.” So in icons, he is similar to the prophet Elijah, and is therefore sometimes represented as having wings, presenting him as a divine messenger.
2. The Archangel Gabriel brought the good news about the birth of John, to his father Zachariah, during the Divine service and also revealed the name of the future prophet. For his unbelief, Zachariah was punished and lost his voice for 9 months and 8 days until the day when he had to announce the name of his child.
3. John leaped in his mother’s (Saint Elizabeth) womb at the Visitation of Mary with the unborn baby Jesus. The first person to recognize the child Jesus was an unborn Saint John the Baptist!

4. St. John was born into a family of priests and was the ancestor of Aaron from the tribe of Levi. His mother Saint Elizabeth, was a relative of the Virgin Mary and wife of Saint Zechariah. Saint John the Baptist's mother believed she would never have children, due to old age, before the Lord answered her prayers for a son. John is a masculine name of Hebrew origin, derived from "Yohannan," meaning "God is gracious." 
5. John the Baptist lived as a hermit in the desert before undertaking his ministry. He wore a hair shirt for penance and ate locusts and honey.
6. During his ministry, John’s preaching, impressed a whole group who became his disciples and followed him. John baptized people in the Jordan River in Bethabara (10 km far from the Dead Sea). The word Bethabara means “the house of ford”, since in that very place more than a thousand years before the baptism of the Lord, the people of Israel had crossed the Jordan River on their way to the Promised Land. In memory of that miraculous event, they built there a special monument – an altar made of 12 stones.  John’s baptism was a symbolic purification and the final stage of repentance after the confession of sins.  Once John pointed to Christ and said to two of his disciples, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) and they followed Him. Those were the future apostles Andrew and John. John baptized Jesus in the Jordan, and a voice came from heaven (the spirit of God descending like a dove) saying, of Jesus, “This is my own dear son with whom I am pleased.” (Matthew 3:3-17)
7. Herod, as a reward for dancing at a feast, gave Salome, the daughter of Herodias, John’s head on the plate at the request of her mother. According to tradition, the cut-off head continued convicting the sins of the royal family.
8. St. John the Forerunner was executed in 32 AD.
9. Saint John the Baptist has 2 feast days in the liturgical calendar: his birth, June 24th, and martyrdom on August 29th. He is the only Saint besides the Blessed Virgin and Jesus to have a Solemnity on his birthday in the universal liturgical calendar.
10. Since he was born 6 months before Christmas and is considered the forerunner of Christ, his birthday is called "Summer Christmas."
BONUS 11. During the daily morning prayer (Lauds) of the "Liturgy of the Hours" or Breviary, the Canticle of St. John the Baptist's father St. Zechariah is prayed; and this prayer honors St. John the Baptist: 
Blessed be the Lord, The God of Israel; He has come to His people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour, Born of the house of His servant David. Through His holy prophets He promised of old That He would save us from our enemies, From the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers And to remember His holy Covenant. This was the oath He swore to our father Abraham: To set us free from the hands of our enemies, Free to worship Him without fear, Holy and righteous in His sight All the days of our life. You, My child shall be called The prophet of the Most High, For you will go before the Lord to prepare His way, To give his people knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our Lord The dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness And the shadow of death, And to guide our feet into the way of peace. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning. is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Sources: https://catalog.obitel-minsk.com/blog/ - the bible