Every year, on the 24th of June, Quebecers celebrate their national day on St Jean Baptiste day. It is a very important day because Quebec has a very specific and strong identity in Canada being the only French speaking area in the whole continent.
Originally, Saint-John the Baptist feast day was celebrated by Europeans in numerous countries, and the French brought this tradition to Canada with them. At that time, St-John day is celebrated in a religious way, but this day means also the beginning of summer in a more pagan way. In the 1600’s this day had nothing more particular than any other celebration, but in 1834, an association of patriots made this day the day of patriotic Quebecers. Quebec history being what it is, the tradition got lost a few years later because forbidden by the government due to the defeat of the Lower Canadian Rebellion, and the repressions. The holiday will later be celebrate once in 1880, the Pope will then proclaim St John the patron saint of French Canadian in 1908, and since 1925, Saint-Jean Baptiste Day is an official holiday and represent Quebec national day.
Saint-Jean Baptiste Day is celebrated everywhere in Quebec, in every village people set up fireworks, gather outside to eat Quebec specialties together, dance to local artists music, in a family atmosphere. In bigger cities like Montreal and particularly Quebec which is the capital, giant shows are organized.
In Montreal you can assist to the parade from 1 PM to 5 PM in St-Denis Street and admire the amazing costumes and flags all light blue and white (for more information about the parade click here). At 6:15 PM in Place des Arts will begin a big show with some local celebrities (click here for more information about the program) that lasts until 1 AM.
In Quebec City everything happens by night! The big show will begin at 9 PM with Quebec most famous singers, and end at 11 PM for the night show which … well has no end but the sunrise! You can also go for a night museum tour, all free, to discover Quebec history through animated steps in different museum! For more information about the big show program click here, for the night show program, click here, and for the museum tour, click here.
Hoping you will use this opportunity to learn more and integrate yourself in the Quebec’s beautiful culture!