Facts about St. Jean Baptiste Day

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1. A Nationwide Holiday
Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day is a nationwide holiday observed in the Canadian province of Quebec and widely known as a day of celebrations for Francophone communities through the nation. Saint Jean Baptiste Day is celebrated each year on 24th June, it is held in celebration of the feast day of St John the Baptist, whom as a Jewish priest, baptized Jesus in the River Jordan.

2. Origin of St. Jean Baptiste Day
Saint Jean Baptiste Day originated in pre-Christian Europe over 2000 years back as a pagan festival for the summertime solstice. This day was initially held on the 21st but then again, with the coming of Christianity it was converted into Saint Jean Baptiste Day and the day of the commemoration changed to 24th.

3. The pagan festival for Summertime Solstice and Saint Jean Baptiste Day
The two occasions shared quite a lot of things. For example, both events celebrated the representation of “light” as the sun of the summer solstice even as Saint Jean Baptiste is seen as one who prepares the way for the light of Jesus Christ. The ancient people lit bonfires on the evenings of 24th to honor the sun.

4. Reviving St. Jean Baptiste
Ludger Duvernay, a publisher of a popular newspaper in Lower Canada was instrumental in reviving the feast of St. Jean Baptiste after the celebrations had stopped ever since the Conquest. During a feast at attorney John MacDonnell’s residence on 24th June 1834, the holiday of Saint Jean Baptiste was founded again this time in Quebec. The news of the feast spread which prompted a large number of the population to celebrate the feast of St. Jean Baptiste.

5. Official Recognition of St. Jean Baptiste
Saint Jean Baptiste Day festivities took place in numerous places each year particularly in the cities of Quebec and Montreal. However, the day was officially recognized as a holiday in 1925. An alliance called Saint Jean Baptiste Societies which was significant in campaigning for the approval of the Québec’s flag were successful in their rallying and on 21st January 1948, the flag became a symbol for Saint Jean holiday.

6. St. Jean Baptiste day as a unifying factor
Quebec experienced a number of stormy years between 1960 and 1970. During this period, Saint Jean Baptiste detached itself from its spiritual appeal and assumed a rather artistic, cultural and most importantly a uniting purpose. Therefore, in the year 1972, the Saint Jean Baptiste federation established itself as a movement set out to address the various disruptions in the society.

7. St. Jean Baptiste Day Festivities
During Saint Jean Baptiste Day, numerous occasions take place ranging from large scale public festivities such as concerts jazz and rock music, sport tournaments, barbeques, bonfires and neighborhood activities such as yard sales. These events are broadcast live on television and organized by the movement called national des Québécoiseset des Québécois.

8. Public life
Being a public holiday in the Canada’s province of Quebec, activities within many spaces are greatly minimized. The public transport services timetables are minimized in some regions while in other areas such as rural areas timetables don’t run at all.

9. Saint Jean Baptiste is a Moral Tool
When Saint Jean Baptiste Society was established in 1843, the Catholic Church greatly appreciated this endeavor and took it as a tool for promoting moral and social development. As such, St John the Baptist was chosen as the patron Saint of Quebec, a move that strengthened the association between French-Canadian patriotism and Saint Jean Baptiste Day.

10. Saint Jean Baptiste Symbol
The flag of Quebec contains a background that has four rectangles divided by a cross. Each rectangle has a single white fleurs-de-lis. The flag and the fleurs-de-lis are well-known symbols of Saint Jean Baptiste Day. This day is marked by people wearing white or blue clothes during the festivities.

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