National Day of Quebec Date in the current year: June 24, 2019

National Day of Quebec On June 24, the Canadian province of Quebec celebrates its National Day. It is an official public holiday in Quebec, and its celebration is sometimes even greater in scale than that of Canada Day, a federal holiday and the national day of the entire country.

On June 24, Western churches celebrate the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. Since the date of the feast is very close to the summer solstice, its traditions are tightly interwoven with pagan midsummer customs. The combined celebration of Saint John’s Day and Midsummer has become popular in many European countries, including France.

It was French colonists who brought the tradition to Canada. The first mention of Saint John’s Day (Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste) festivities in Canada dates back to 1606. The second celebration is believed to have occurred in 1636.

In 1834, Quebecois journalist and printer Ludger Duvernay founded the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society to protect Quebec francophone interests and to promote the Quebec sovereignty movement. Inspired by St. Patrick’s Day festivities organized by the Irish diaspora in Montreal, Duvernay and other members of the society decided to organize a similar event for Francophone Canadians. The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist seemed like a natural choice of date.

Originally, the celebrations were mainly religious in nature, although some pagan customs, such as the lighting on bonfires, were still observed. In addition, Saint-Jean-Baptiste parades became an important holiday tradition. In 1925, Saint John’s Day was declared a legal holiday in Quebec. In 1977, Lieutenant Governor Hugues Lapointe declared it the national holiday of Quebec (Fête nationale du Québec).

Over time, the National Day of Quebec has become a secular holiday, but it is still often referred to as Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. Since 1984, it has been organized by the National Movement of Quebecois (Mouvement national des Québécoises et des Québécois), a federation of patriotic organizations that promote the French language, the sovereignty of Quebec, and national pride. As a rule, the celebration program includes parades, open-air concerts, fireworks displays. Many festivities kick off on the night of June 23.

After the so-called Quiet Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, the celebration of Quebec’s National Day became much more politicized than it used to be. Many Quebec separatists see it as a great occasion to publicly remind about their political ideals and to challenge federalists.

For instance, in 2009, a controversy arose when local bands Bloodshot Bill and Lake of Stew, both consisting of bilingual Quebecois, were barred from performing at the celebration because they intended to perform songs in English. When both anglophone and francophone communities expressed their outrage, the bands were allowed to perform.

To smooth out controversies, the organizers began to emphasize the inclusive nature of the celebration and the diversity of Quebec community, inviting performers who sing in different languages, not necessarily English or French.

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Category

Anniversaries and Memorial Days

Country

Canada

Tags

National Day of Quebec, holidays in Canada, holidays in Quebec, public holiday, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day