I rediscovered the most wonderful website yesterday called Fish Eaters (name referring to the Catholic practice of not eating meat on Fridays) as I was reading about St. John the Baptist's birthday. I learned that his death by beheading has a name: "decollation". (I love words for ways you can die. My favorite word for years has been "defenestration" which means pushing someone out a window.)
But wait! There is more! According to this site he is considered to be one of three people born without sin. The other two are, of course, Jesus and Mary and the three together are the only ones whose birthdays are church feasts. He was filled with grace in the womb of his mother and that, I guess, caused him to be born (but not conceived) without sin. More about that on the site.
It gets more interesting though. The traditional song associated with his birthday is called Ut queant laxis and is the source of ut, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, ut. OK - the uts later became dos. You will do better to read about that from their site.
According to fish eaters, customs on his birthday include blessing bonfires, picking strawberries and eating SNAILS! I can't wait to tell my mac-ar-only and cheese eating kids what's on the menu next June 24!