La Fête Nationale du Québec

Since 1978, every June 23rd and 24th has been designated La Fête Nationale du Québec (Québec’s National Holiday), or St. John the Baptist Day.

I am still unsure of this whole holiday. In the midst of unpacking, it wasn’t until everything was covered in provincial flags (and our street was blocked off) that I realized something was happening.

What I have gathered is in its modern form La Fête Nationale du Québec is a holiday celebrating French Canadian culture, and the province of Québec kind of by default.

It seems to have originated with the French colonists, continuing to celebrate the fest day of Saint John the Baptist, but over time religion has played less of a role. When it became an official holiday here in Québec it seemed to have morphed into a holiday that unites it’s residents, not just Catholics- hence, Québec National Day. Much like Independence day today is seen as a collective “Go ‘Merica!” rather than focusing on its literal historical significance – declaring independence from Great Britain. More celebration of culture and freedom (fireworks, parades, barbecues, and picnics apparently), with little focus on anti-GB propaganda.

To some, it is still celebrated as the feast day of St. John (Bonne fête de St. John!) but I saw it mainly referred to as Québec’s National Day, or just National Day.

There was a parade, which our street was a part of. The parade centered around all things Québec – famous individuals from Québec, it’s diverse seasons and culture. There were no overwhelming reminders of event sponsors and it actually featured Québec talent (Hey States, take note!). Local schools participated and each group had a choreographed dance, matching outfits, music, and everything was cohesive. There was a great sense of pride and unity.

And really tall paper maché people! It was continuous throughout the parade – historical figures almost as tall as the houses. Good thing it didn’t rain.

– Jes

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