Every year on the 24th of June, Quebecers and French Canadians across Canada celebrate Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, traditionally a Catholic celebration of the Nativity (birth) of St. John the Baptist, which was brought to Canada by French settlers. Today, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, also known as La Saint-Jean or La Fête national du Québec, is a national holiday in Québec, with publicly-financed events taking place province-wide
In the early 1600s we see the first mention of Saint-Jean-Baptiste celebrations in Canada, at a time when the feast day was traditionally focused on its religious origins. Since then the day has become more synonymous with patriotism (particularly from the 1800s onwards), and in 1977 the day became a statutory public holiday (a paid holiday) throughout Québec. Today the celebrations have been largely secularized, with all Quebecers, not just French-Canadians or Catholics, taking part in festivities. Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day events occur throughout Québec to celebrate Francophone culture. Neighbourhoods, families and friends gather together, arranging firework displays, pot-luck meals with Québec culinary specialities, picnics, bonfires and barbecues. In bigger towns and cities public events are held, including concerts, fireworks and parades. You’re likely to see many a Québec flag being waved too – see how many blue and white Fleurdelisé flags you can spot!
In Québec city on the 23rd and 24th of June, a number of museums will be opening their doors in the evenings, for free, for visitors to discover more about Québec’s history. In 2018 the museums participating are: Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Musée de l’Amérique francophone, and l’Observatoire de la Capitale. You can find out more about the program here.
To find out more about Saint-Jean-Baptiste celebrations, see the Fête national du Québec website here. We hope you will take this fantastic opportunity to learn more about Francophone Canadian history, and to immerse yourself in Québec’s beautiful culture.
Happy Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day!
Photo Credit: Wikipedia