The National Holiday of Quebec

National and public holidays in Canada Regional Holiday in Canada


When is the National Holiday of Quebec?

The National Holiday of Quebec (La Fête nationale du Québec) is a holiday in the Canadian province of Quebec.

It is celebrated on 24 June, which betrays the origin of the holiday as this is also St. John the Baptist Day (Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day) - the patron saint of the French Canadians. If 24 June falls on a Sunday, the holiday will be observed on Monday 25 June.

History of the National Holiday of Quebec

The feast day of Saint John the Baptist was a popular feast day in many European countries. The holiday arrived in Quebec along with the first French colonists, with celebrations being noted as far back as 1636.

Celebrations begin on 23 June with the lighting of bonfires, dancing, and the singing of traditional folk songs. The morning of the holiday, parades are held in major centres. A Roman Catholic mass is usually followed by popular music concerts.

While the holiday has become secularized in modern times, the day remains popularly called la St-Jean-Baptiste or simply la St-Jean and is still observed in churches.

In 1925, 24 June became a legal holiday in Quebec. In 1977, it was declared as the national holiday in Quebec. The use of 'national' in this context is controversial, due to the different interpretations of significance of the word nation.

The popularity of Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day had a surprising knock on effect on another Canadian holiday. Until the 1970s, Dominion Day, which fell on 1 July, was little more than a day off for most Canadians; the major holiday was Victoria Day. To respond to the Quebec nationalists' promotion of Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, the federal government began pushing 1 July as a national holiday for Canada. It did so by changing the name of the holiday to Canada Day and increasing the amount of funds available for its celebration.

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