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St-Jean-Baptiste Celebrations!

Popular annual celebrations take place in French Canada on 24 June (the feast day of St John the Baptist) or on the days before or after this date.

The Quebec Flag (Drapeau)

Following a tradition the origin of which is lost in antiquity, many people, among them the Gauls, lit fires to celebrate the summer solstice. According to the Jesuit Relations and the Journal des Jésuites, this tradition was revived on the banks of the St Lawrence in 1636. In 1646 the Journal reported that ‘on 23 June the fire for St-Jean was lit at half-past eight in the evening… One heard five cannon shots and two or three discharges from muskets.’

St-Jean Baptiste came to be known as the patron saint of French Canadians as a result of centuries of recognition of the influence he had on New France as new colony was developing from the time of early colonization.
Capitaine Quebec

While the orgin of the holiday in France was the pagan celebration of the summer soltice; a celebration of light and a symbol of hope. In the reign of the French King Clovis, the annual event was christianized and became a religious celebration of the birth of John the Baptist, who is known as the Precursor of Christ, the light of the world – thus the link with the soltice and the bonfires.Bonfire

The festival of Jean Baptiste had particular importance for all the Catholics of Europe, especially those of France. The King of France would light the bonfire in the nights of June 23 and 24 in Paris.

Once in North America, the French continued to celebrate this event, the celebration became annual, and gradually more elaborate, and spread to other localities in Quebec, in Acadia (1880), and in the francophone regions of Ontario, the Canadian west, and even the USA.

St. Jean Baptiste

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