Every year, French Canadians celebrate their cultural pride and heritage through parades and parties on June 24 marking, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. These festivities combine the ancient rites of the summer solstice with traditional celebrations in honour of the Patron Saint of French Canadians, Saint John the Baptist. How did Saint John come to be the patron saint of French Canada? The Canadian Encyclopedia offers some clues:
It is not known why St-Jean-Baptiste came to be considered the patron saint of French Canada. One legend has it that a great many French-Canadians bearing that given name persuaded the journalist and patriot Ludger Duvernay to adopt it as the name of the national society of French-Canadians which he founded in 1834. In any case that was the name he chose, and the St-Jean-Baptiste Association (St-Jean-Baptiste Society from 1914 on) of Montreal took the maple leaf and the beaver as its emblems. The founding was celebrated 24 Jun 1834 by a banquet to which 60 guests were invited – Irish, US, and Canadian. Many among them sang their interpretations of patriotic songs, including George-Étienne Cartier who sang ‘Ô Canada! mon pays! mes amours!’ The celebration became annual, and gradually more elaborate, and spread to other localities in Quebec, in Acadia (1880), and in the francophone regions of Ontario, the Canadian west, and even the USA.