Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day 2024: Embrace Unity and Preserve Heritage

Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day 2024, a national holiday in Quebec, celebrates St. John the Baptist's birth, focusing on civic events and francophone culture, promoting happiness and heritage.

Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day 2024: The Canadian province of Quebec celebrates St. Jean Baptiste Day, a national holiday, on June 24. French Canadians worldwide, especially in Canada and the United States, join in the celebration. It is a celebration of the customary feast day of the Nativity, or birth, of St. John the Baptist. Civic events have diminished the religious significance of the holiday, and “la St-Jean” now primarily celebrates francophone culture and history. It includes public events, parades, barbecues, picnics, and pyrotechnics. Happy Saint Jean-Baptiste!

History of Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day

The Ancient Régime of France highly celebrated the feast day of Saint John the Baptist or Midsummer. Numerous countries, such as Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Spain, Latvia, Ireland, and Lithuania, still observe it as a religious feast day.

The initial French colonists introduced the tradition to Canada. The initial reference to Saint-Jean-Baptiste celebrations in North America is from 1606, when settlers route to the future Acadia paused on the coast of Newfoundland on June 23. Nine According to the Jesuit Relations, the second mention of celebrations took place on the shores of the Saint Lawrence River on the evening of June 23, 1636, in the form of a bonfire and five cannon shots.

In 1834, Ludger Duvernay, one of the founders of the newspaper La Minerve, initiated the commemoration of the nativity of St. John the Baptist in Lower Canada with a patriotic overtone. Duvernay would subsequently serve as the inaugural president of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society. Duvernay and other patriots participated in the inaugural St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Montreal in the spring of 1834, which were a celebration of the Irish diaspora. This would inspire him and others to organize an event of a comparable nature for all Canadiens and their acquaintances.

In the gardens of barrister John McDonnell, near the old Windsor Station, approximately sixty francophones and anglophones of Montreal attended a grand patriotic banquet on June 24, where George-Étienne Cartier’s “Ô Canada! mon pays, mes amours” was first sung. The song’s reference to Canada is to Lower Canada, which is the southern region of Quebec in the present day. The United States, Ireland, the Parti patriot, and the Ninety-Two Resolutions were all honored with toasts.

Two days later, La Minerve concluded that the holiday, intended to strengthen the unity of Canadians, would not be without its benefits. We will observe this national holiday annually and it will consistently yield the most joyful outcomes. The celebration was repeated in 1835, 1836, and 1837.

Several years passed without commemorating the day following the military repressions that occurred after the Lower Canada Rebellion and the defeat of the insurrectional movement. In order to commemorate Saint-Jean-Baptiste that year, Duvernay established the charitable Association Saint-Jean Baptiste in 1834. In 1849, the organization was established with the objective of fostering moral and social advancement.

The Catholic Church provided support for the celebrations, which were predominantly religious at the time. The igniting of bonfires, a traditional custom on the Nativity of Saint John that ultimately dated back to pre-Christian Midsummer celebrations, still took place at night. The initial Saint-Jean-Baptiste procession were also organized. Over time, they evolved into a significant tradition. In 1874, the allegorical barge procession was implemented.

The Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society convened the assembly of all francophone communities in North America on June 24, 1880. The inaugural National Congress of French Canadians was the occasion. On this occasion, citizens of Quebec City first heard the “Ô Canada” of Calixa Lavallée, which was inspired by a poem by Adolphe-Basile Routhier, a justice of the Quebec Superior Court. The Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society commissioned the composition.  It received a positive response; however, it did not gain widespread recognition for a long time. Subsequently, a royal excursion in 1901 composed English words. Canada designated “O Canada” as its official national anthem in 1980.

Pope Pius X designated St. John the Baptist as the patron saint of French Canadians in 1908. They did not conduct the processions from 1914 to 1923. In 1925, Quebec declared June 24 as a provincial holiday, 91 years after Ludger Duvernay held a banquet in Montreal.

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FAQs for Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day

What are some of the typical activities and traditions linked to St. Jean Baptiste Day?

Parades, concerts, pyrotechnics, bonfires, and public gatherings are some of the events that celebrate the occasion. In addition, many people choose to wear blue and white, which are the colors of Quebec, and proudly display the flag of the province.

Are there any interesting events or parades happening on St. Jean Baptiste Day?

Grand parades mark significant events in major locations like Montreal and Quebec City. Every year, these parades attract large crowds and feature a variety of performances, including music, dance, and floats.

Are there any other regions in Canada that observe St. Jean Baptiste Day?

Although the primary celebrations occur in Quebec, French Canadian communities in other regions of Canada also partake in the holiday with their own distinct events and traditions.

Interesting Activities for Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day

Contributing to the community

Many people choose to give back to their community by participating in volunteer activities and community service projects.

Sports and Outdoor Activities

People frequently organize local sports competitions, such as soccer, hockey, and other games.

Traditional Foods

Indulging in traditional Quebecois foods such as poutine, tourtière (meat pie), and maple syrup-based desserts is a beloved aspect of the celebration.

5 interesting facts about Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day

  1. People celebrate Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day under various names, including St John the Baptist Day, ‘la Saint-Jean,’ ‘Fête nationale du Québec,’ and Quebec’s National Holiday.
  2. The flag of Quebec and the fleurs-de-lis symbolize Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day.
  3. Jean Baptiste is the French translation of the nameJohn the Baptist, a significant figure in Christianity who performed the baptism of Jesus Christ.
  4. John performed baptisms for individuals of the Jewish faith in the river Jordan after they openly acknowledged their sins.
  5. St. John, who is known as John the Baptist, is also mentioned in Islam. The Islamic faith regards John the Baptist as a prophet.

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