Tea at Triannon has a nice post about St. John's Eve, which we celebrate today, while tomorrow is the Feast of the St. John the Baptist. As Marie Elena writes: "It was a tradition in the days of Christendom to have a bonfire in honor of the saint who was a 'burning and shining light.' (John 5:35) In some places, they still do; my father always had a bonfire in honor of the Birthday of the Baptist." Now there's an excellent tradition to bring back.
Fish Eaters provides more details about the customs and prayers for this feast day. Continuing in a musical vein, we learn this:
"Another interesting thing about the Feast of St. John: the Breviary's hymn for this day, Ut queant laxis -- the hymn sung or recited during the blessing of the bonfire -- is the source of our names of musical notes -- Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do. The hymn, attributed to Paulus Diaconus (Paul the Deacon, ca. A.D. 720-799), was noted by a monk to rise one note in the diatonic C-Scale with each verse. The syllables sung at each rise in pitch give us the names of our notes (the 'Ut' was later changed to 'Do' for easier pronunciation):
Ut queant laxis
Labii reatum, Sanc
"The words mean:
So that these your servants may, with all their voice, resound your marvelous exploits, clean the guilt from our stained lips, O Saint John.
"And the melody is as follows:
An alternate translation here, with further explanation of the musical notation:
O for thy Spirit, Holy John, to chasten,
Lips sin-polluted, fettered tongues to loosen,
So by thy children might thy deeds of wonder
Meetly be chaunted