Patron saints aren't equal

Saint Patrick is the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland. Celebrations for Saint Patrick's Day began as a purely Catholic holiday and became an official feast day in the early 1600s. It has gradually become a secular celebration of Ireland's culture. The longest-running Saint Patrick's Day parade in Canada occurs each year in Montréal, the flag of which has a shamrock in one of its corners. The parades have been held in continuity since 1824.

In 1834, inspired by the celebrations in Montréal, several attending Patriotes got the idea of organizing something similar for all the Canadiens and their friends. By the late 1800s, the idea had spread to French speaking communities across North America and they started gathering to mark June 24 as an important holiday. In 1908, Pope Pius X officially designated St. John the Baptist as the patron saint of all French Canadians across the country.

St. Patrick's Day was March 17. To mark the event, Google.ca had one of its customized logos; both The Globe and Mail and The National Post printed a story about the origins of the holiday.

St. John the Baptist Day is today. Celebrations have started last night on the Plains of Abraham in Québec City and continue today at Parc de Maisonneuve in Montréal and across the province. The concerts in Québec City and Montréal commonly draw more people than Canada Day usually does one week later in other major cities of the country. Still, the holiday is a non event for the majority of Canadians. Google.ca, The Globe and Mail and The National Post are silent about it.

June 24 was made into the Fête nationale du Québec in 1977 by the PQ government to encompass all residents of the province. In the minds of many, St. John the Baptist Day has become intricately associated with Québec's sovereignty movement. Yet, the St. Jean Baptiste Society is behind the Canadian Maple Leaf and our country's National Anthem, symbols that Canadians of all stripes embrace as their own.

I wish French Canadians from across the country a very good St. John the Baptist Day and Québécois of all origins a very good Fête nationale du Québec.

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