Canada, eh? – June 2021

Canada, eh? – June 2021

Today, the 24th of June, is St John the Baptist Day (Fr: Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste), also called Fête nationale du Québec. St John the Baptist is the patron saint of the Quebec province and of French Canadians. It is celebrated by them across Canada and North America.

.

Saint-Jean-Baptiste festival in Quebec (evening of June 24)

The holiday is still celebrated by many Francophones, mostly from the Quebec or Acadian diaspora, New England, Ontario, the Maritime provinces and Western Canada. The most important Saint-Jean-Baptiste celebrations in Canada outside Quebec take place as part of the Festival franco-ontarien, which is held each year in Ottawa. Saint-Jean-Baptiste is also an important celebration for the region of northern Ontario in various small towns including Kapuskasing. Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day is also widely celebrated in British Columbia, more particularly in the Okanagan Valley, since many of the seasonal workers, present for the summer harvest of cherries and other fruits, are Quebecers.

.

Celebrations of St John Day: 1. In Slavic folklore: Wreath thrown in water, painted by Zofia Stryjeńska (1891-1976); 2. In France: La Fête de la Saint-Jean by Jules Breton (1827-1906).

.

The feast day of Saint John the Baptist or Midsummer was a very popular event not only in France but also in Scandinavia and the Slavic countries as “Koupala night”. Among the European peoples, the summer solstice fell on June 24. It was celebrated with night fires and these bonfires still remaining today the symbol of the holiday. The tradition is still alive, especially fot thoso who realize that St John the Baptist Day (Fr: Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste) is celebrated precisely six months before Christmas.

.

The feast was brought to Canada by French settlers celebrating the traditional feast day of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. The first celebrations of this Christian holiday in New France would have taken place as early as 1606, with French settlers. They were heading for what would become Acadia, making a stopover in Newfoundland and celebrating, on June 24, Saint-Jean Baptiste on the coasts. “O Canada” was sung for the first time on June 24, 1834 (‘My country, my love’ of George-Étienne Cartier during a great patriotic banquet bringing together some sixty francophones and anglophones from Montreal in the gardens of John McDonnell.

Following the uprisings of the Patriots of 1837 and 1838 and the military repressions that followed, the holiday ceased to be celebrated for several years. In Quebec in 1842, it gave rise to a large religious procession, thus inaugurating the tradition of the St-Jean-Baptiste parade, promised to long posterity. Under the Confederation, on June 24, 1880, the citizens of Quebec City participating in the Saint-Jean-Baptiste festivities had another O Canada sung, today Canada’s national anthem. It quickly became popular and was even referred to as the “national anthem” of French Canadians.

.

Calixa Lavallée (1842-1991) composed music for the Canadian anthem and lyrics are by Adolphe-Basile Routhier (1839-1920).

.

Ô Canada – in French (1:33) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoQibmpmaoQ . There is a proposal to sing the Canadian anthem each time in both official languages.


Ô Canada!
Terre de nos aïeux,
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!
Car ton bras sait porter l’épée,
Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

.

In 1925, the government of Quebec made June 24 a public holiday. On May 11, 1977. It officially becomes the National Day of Quebec. Some people in the French-speaking communities of Canada regret that Quebec has “appropriated” this holiday [ref. necessary], since from their point of view, the feast was intended to unite all French Canadians. Also there are leaders that still accuse Ottawa of having usurped the historic national symbols of Quebecers by appropriating the maple leaf, the beaver and the anthem Ô Canada.

.

Celebrations in Augresselles (Normandy): blessing of the boats and procession.

.

Today the Feast of St John Baptist is still celebrated as a religious feast day in several countries, like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Spain, Portugal and Baltic states. For the Roman Catholic Church, June 24 is a religious holiday in honor of Saint John the Baptist. In France, the traditional celebrations take place in the shrine of Augresselles, only fifty miles from England. Even today, it is in Saint-Jean-Baptiste-d’Audresselles that all the Catholics of the region meet for major religious festivals. Among them are families of Acadians who returned to Boulonnais after the loss of the New France*. For several years, a Québec National Day parade has been organized in France by the Délégation générale du Québec in Paris. Delegations from New York, London, Brussels, Mexico City and Tokyo are also supporting activities to mark June 24.

.

.

Although it is still the feast of French Canadians, Saint-Jean-Baptiste is not only that of Quebecers or Catholic origin. It is also the occasion of a great festival which these people take advantage to show their existence and culture to the world.

*

CANTICLE of the SUN

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. (…) Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures.

.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

(Franciscan Ecology Movement / Mouvement Écologique Franciscain)

Sois loué, mon Seigneur, par frère Feu, par qui tu illumines la nuit. Il est beau et joyeux, puissant et fort.

_____________

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Translate »
%d bloggers like this: