Fete nationale du Quebec
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The Fete nationale des Canadiens Francais (English: Canada’s French Canadian National Holiday) is an official holiday of the Canadian province of Quebec. The festivities occur on June 23 and June 24, and are organized by the Comite organisateur de la fete nationale (national holiday organizing committee). Originally, June 24 was a holiday honouring one of the patron saint of French Canadians, St. John the Baptist, and in ordinary conversation the day is still often called la Saint-Jean by Quebecers.
Although the holiday has official status only in Quebec, it is also celebrated by some francophones in other Canadian provinces and in the United States as a festival of French Canadian culture. In these contexts, it is more often called Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day.
In 1925, June 24 became a legal holiday in Quebec.
After the Quiet Revolution, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day became very political. The religious symbolism associated with the celebrations was rejected by the younger generations. During this period, Governor General Georges Vanier, who, as viceroy, always fostered unity and biculturalism, found himself the target of Quebec sovereigntists in Montreal, on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, 1964, wherein a group of separatists held placards reading “Vanier vendu” (“Vanier sold”) and “Vanier fou de la Reine” (“Vanier, jester to the Queen”). Four years later, with the new Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in attendance on the eve of a general election, a riot broke out on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, and 290 people were arrested. Trudeau was filmed refusing to take cover or leave the grandstand when the rioters pelted it with rocks, as well as bottles containing paint and acid. The scene was broadcast on Radio-Canada’s and CBC’s evening news. Many saw it as an open act of courage, and it impressed the electorate. The incident contributed to his Liberal Party winning a significant majority the next day.
In 1969, the little St. John the Baptist icon was destroyed during a riot. This led to the interruption of the parade, which did not take place the next year.