Celebrated for more than 100 years, the festival is considered one of the most important holidays in Quebec.
Don your blue and white and prepare to celebrate! Held annually on June 24, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day is one of the biggest celebrations of the year for French Canadians. A fun and dynamic holiday, it marks the start of the summer season.
Also known as La Fête Nationale du Québec, francophone communities across the country proudly display the blue and white fleur-de-lys flag, and gather for parades, festivals, outdoor concerts, parties, and fireworks.
So, “tire-toi une bûche” – pull up a log – and find out how All Seniors Care communities in Quebec are celebrating French culture and traditions.
Why Celebrate Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day?
The roots of the holiday can be traced back to ancient times. Specifically, to celebrations of the summer solstice, an ancient pagan tradition during which bonfires were lit on the longest day of the year in homage to the sun and the start of farming season. This later evolved into the feast day of Saint John the Baptist, popular in France and many European countries.
The holiday arrived in Quebec along with the first French colonists; the lighting of the Saint-Jean fire is noted as far back as 1636.
How To Celebrate La Fête Nationale
Québécois people typically begin their celebrations the night before. Cities bustle with activity, fireworks, bonfires, dancing, and the singing of traditional folk songs. The morning of the holiday, parades are held in major centres.
Simply called La Saint-Jean or La Fête Nationale, the day is meant to bring communities together. At francophone and bilingual All Seniors Care residences, the buildings are decked out in blue and white, ready for the festivities!
The staff at the La Gappe residences have a full day planned for the event!! Everyone will dress in festive garb, eat their favourite snacks, and toast la belle province! There are also great activities at Château Symmes senior care homes in Aylmer, including exercise classes and movie night – taking full advantage of the theatre!
For those who are curious about events happening across Canada, explore this interactive map.
Celebrate The Light
Fire is a traditional symbol of this holiday that honours the beginning of summer. To incorporate this element into contemporary celebrations, light up your party with warm white, yellow, or blue lights. At La Gappe residences in Gatineau, Quebec seniors will enjoy a special St. Jean themed Bar B Q under the twinkling lights of decorations and (weather permitting) sunny skies. Yum!
Celebrate the Culture
Why not incorporate the historical roots of Saint Jean Baptiste Day’s customs and traditions in with your celebration? Seniors at La Gappe will be using brain teasers and trivia to test their knowledge of St. Jean Baptiste, playing games, and getting to know their neighbours in a day that promises to be joyful!
Gather for Some Music
Did you know that “O Canada” was heard for the first time in 1880 during Saint-Jean celebrations in Québec City? Originally called “Chant national,” it was written in Québec City by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier (words in French) with the music by composer Calixa Lavallée.
Few countries possess a folk music as rich and culturally varied as Canada’s. And the diversity of Quéecois music is at the foundation of many Fête Nationale events. From the singing of folk songs to live music performances, there is something to get everyone dancing!
Live music is an especially big draw at senior homes in Quebec and bilingual residences in Ottawa, June 24th is no exception. Ask your Health and Wellness about musical performances scheduled at your residence!
Little Saint Jean
Parades are very popular way to pay tribute to this important day, and Quebec really puts on a show with impressive holiday parades, banners, and festivities. Wherever Saint Jean goes, a sheep will follow, as this is another traditional symbol of the season.
While we won’t be having any sheep visit the Québec residences, the days will be capped off with an evening “parade”, or walk, outside during the fading light of the longest day of the year. “Bonne St-Jean!”
Enjoy Life at All Seniors Care
Everything from the suites to the staff to the amenities and activities are made to provide a care-free living environment, no matter the time of year. With independent, assisted living, and memory care in a setting where seniors can Age-in-Place, we have incredible retirement residences across, Canada, including:
- Cite Parkway on the East end of Ottawa
- Options for senior apartments, independent and assisted living at Beacon Heights in beautiful Ottawa, Ontario
- Seine River assisted living in South East Winnipeg
- Rutherford Heights, a senior retirement communities close to Beaumont, Alberta
Writer – Julianna McLeod
Julianna is a health and wellness expert at All Seniors Care. Her mission is to create content that empowers seniors to form sustainable solutions for lasting health and happiness. She is an experienced writer, editor, and Recreational Therapist living in Toronto.