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Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Francophones across the country show their pride by celebrating their language and their traditions
June 21, 2024

Corporation of the Town of Smooth Rock Falls

June 24th is St-Jean Baptiste Day!

In Canada, nearly 10 million people speak French, Smooth Rock Falls included!  On June 24, on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day and the National Day of Quebec, Francophones across the country show their pride by celebrating their language and their traditions.

Background:

Midsummer festivals, such as those linked with the June solstice, were held in Europe for thousands of years. When people converted to Christianity, elements of these festivals were combined with feast days for Christian saints. In France, the celebrations around the feast day of Saint John the Baptist were widely enjoyed and French colonists introduced these traditions to North America.

The patriotic tone of the Saint Jean Baptiste Day celebrations began in 1834. In that year Ludger Duvernay, an influential journalist, visited the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Montreal, and was inspired to create a similar event for French Canadians. In 1843, he established the Saint Jean Baptiste Society to promote the celebration of Saint Jean Baptiste Day. This organization was supported by the Catholic Church, which saw it as a way to promote social and moral progress. In 1908 St John the Baptist was designated as the patron Saint of Quebec, re-enforcing the connection between Saint Jean Baptiste Day and French-Canadian patriotism.

During and after World War I, Saint Jean Baptiste Day was barely celebrated, but in 1925 Saint Jean Baptiste Day became a provincial holiday in Quebec. After a period in the 1960s, when the structure of society in Quebec changed greatly, this holiday became very political. However, in 1977 Saint Jean Baptiste Day was recognized as the ‘national’ holiday of Quebec and the mood of the celebrations gradually moved towards that of the secular celebrations in modern times.

Symbols:

The fleurs-de-lis represents the flower of an iris or a lily. The fleurs-de-lis is also associated with the Virgin Mary and her purity. It was a symbol of French speaking people and their kings after King Clovis I converted to Christianity in the year 493. It was taken from the papal seal or coat-of-arms when the king converted, to symbolize the strength and significance of the French nation in its union with the Papal state. Quebec’s flag is one-and-a half times as wide as it is high and has a blue background. The background is divided into four rectangles by a cross and each of the four rectangles contains a single white fleurs-de-lis. The flag of Quebec and the fleurs-de-lis are widespread symbols of Saint Jean Baptiste Day. Many people choose to wear blue or white clothing to the celebrations.

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