Skip to content

Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day: Did You Know?

Why not celebrate this national holiday with our French-Canadian friends? Here's three things to understand about the celebration. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day

A national holiday in Quebec and celebrated by French Canadians worldwide, especially in Canada and the United States, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, June 24,  honors the traditional feast day of the Nativity — or birth — of St. John the Baptist. The religious nature of the holiday has been de-emphasized for civic events, and “la St-Jean” is now mainly a celebration of francophone culture and history filled with public events, parades, barbecues, picnics and fireworks. Bonne Saint-Jean-Baptiste!

Grab a seat to watch some fireworks, have a neighbourhood picnic (physically-distanced, of course) and start to learn French like you've been meaning to--all great ways to honour the day. Here's a few facts you may not know:

The first record of French settlers celebrating June 24, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, dates back to the early 17th century, when settlers en route to the future Acadia rested on the coast of Newfoundland. The annual celebration in Canada, recognizing the patron saint of French Canadians, became tradition in the 1800s.

The feast day of Saint John the Baptist or Midsummer was a very popular event in ancient France, and it is still celebrated as a religious feast day in several countries, like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Spain, Latvia and Lithuania.

French was the first European language spoken in Alberta and it remains the most widely spoken language after English. Although historically, much of Alberta's francophone population could trace its origins to Quebec and France, today francophones in Alberta come from across the country and around the world.