La Fête Nationale – 2021 Guide to Quebec’s Largest Celebration

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La Fête Nationale – 2021 Guide to Quebec’s Largest Celebration

Everything You Need to Know About Canada’s Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, also called “The National Holiday of Quebec”

More and more people are planning trips for the future as our lives get closer and closer to being “back to normal.” But even though we are eager to throw open the door and welcome the world after the outbreak with open arms, there are still important events happening online. One of these is Quebec’s Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, which is also called La Fête Nationale by French-speaking people.

Even though the festival will be held online for the second year in a row, the livestreams of the event make it easier for those of us who are interested in Quebec’s history and yearly customs to watch. At first glance, La Fête Nationale looks like a big blue-and-white party. However, learning about the history and practices of this holiday may give people who do not live in Quebec the background they need to celebrate like the locals!

History of Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day?

Quebec and a few Francophone towns across Canada commemorate La Fête Nationale. Before June 24th became a patriotic holiday, Canadians celebrated the summer solstice, an ancient pagan ritual. The French Catholic church eventually turned this long-standing practice into a commemoration of Saint Jean, a Christian austere Jewish prophet.

One guy sought to make Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day a display of French-Canadian pride and religious conviction. In 1834, French-Canadian industrialist Ludger Duvernay attended a Montreal Saint Patrick’s Day party. He encouraged French-Canadians to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day as a means to show Irish patriotism. Inspired by what he saw, Duvernay founded the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society and worked with many powerful individuals to make it a province-wide holiday.

In 1925, the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society made the event a national holiday. Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day has become a secular celebration of Quebecois culture and togetherness in recent decades. La Fête Nationale is now the official name of the holiday, while many French-Canadians still call it La Fête.
Quebec Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day la Fete Nationale in context!

La Fête Nationale Today: How?

Despite the Fête Nationale’s many modifications, many traditions remain today! The event still celebrates its ancient roots with flames.

French-Canadians build 300 bonfires, dance, and sing folk music the night before the festival. The Quebec City blaze on June 23rd is fueled using embers from National Aboriginal Day burns on June 21.

The night before La Fête, many of events are held, but the next morning is when the party truly starts: elaborate parades and concerts for enormous crowds with live musical guests from around Canada and occasionally outside.

Gilles Vigneault’s “Gens du pays,” played on the Fête Nationale since the 1970s, is a standard song. French-Canadians now associate the song with provincial pride. In June 2020, a volunteer organization arranged a “Gens du pays” sing-along when Quebecers sang Vigneault’s song from their balconies.

Has COVID-19 affected Fête Nationale?

The Fête Nationale Facebook page held a children’s drawing contest this year, where kids from across the province submitted their best drawings of what they called a “tight-woven Quebec” despite the pandemic. A virtual flag-raising celebration in the city square honors Quebec and its people. The church celebrates Saint-Jean-Baptiste with a morning mass.

In 2020, numerous LGBTQ+ performers developed Saint Jeanne, a virtual performance that celebrated underrepresented Quebecois identities. The name breaks the French gender binary by mixing the masculine “saint” with the feminine “Jeanne.” Saint Jeanne celebrated Quebec and its people while criticizing its conservatism.

COVID-19 may force this year’s event online, but it is still a national holiday. On the 24th, banks, post offices, and public transit are closed or have limited hours, so you can order delivery poutine and watch the festivities from home. Montreal and Quebec City restaurants and food trucks frequently offer promotions for Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, making it the perfect holiday to sample Quebec’s characteristic dishes.

New restaurants in trendy Montreal areas provide vegetarian and vegan poutine.

Smoked beef, one of Montreal’s lesser-known specialties, is a favorite among carnivores.

Thousands of volunteers plan Quebec’s largest province-wide festival, La Fête Nationale du Québec. The Quebecois’ desire to keep 2021’s celebrations upbeat indicates how important it is to them and Canadian culture.

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