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All about Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day

 

Photo by Anirudh Koul licensed CC BY-NC 2.0 

Held annually on June 24, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day is a national holiday that’s celebrated in Quebec where it's known as la Saint-Jean or la Fête nationale du Québec (“the National holiday of Quebec” in English). Many Canadian Francophone communities outside of Quebec also celebrate Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day.

a giant statue of hockey great Maurice Richard in the parade

Photo by abdallah licensed CC BY-NC 2.0

Festivities take place on June 23 and 24. People gather to mark Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day  and celebrate Francophone culture with public events including concerts, parades, and firework displays. Families and neighbourhoods also get together to hold their own smaller celebrations on the holiday. They arrange picnics, bonfires, and barbecues for la Saint-Jean. 
 

The flag of Quebec

Photo by Gilberto Rancourt licensed CC BY-NC 2.0

The flag of Quebec and the white fleur-de-lis that is found on the flag are both symbols of the holiday. Many people wave the blue and white flag at Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day and Fête nationale du Québec events, and they often wear blue or white clothing when attending celebrations.

The history of Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day goes back hundreds of years. Originally, it was a day to remember St. John the Baptist, a Christian saint. But that changed in the spring of 1834. A French-Canadian businessman named Ludger Duvernay attended a St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Montreal. He thought that French Canadians should organize a similar day to honour their own heritage. So he formed the Saint Jean Baptiste Society, and the holiday was first observed on June 24 of that year.
 

A girl dressed up as an iris.

Photo by abdallah licensed CC BY-NC 2.0

Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day was celebrated on and off for years until it finally became an official holiday in Quebec in 1925. From that point on, the day has been observed each year and it has become a celebration of the Francophone culture and its history. 

“Bonne Saint-Jean-Baptiste!”