Which Saint-Jean are you celebrating? | The Press

Have you ever done the exercise of consulting the list of national holidays around the world? Three quarters mark the achievement of independence. When the date of the party arrives, no one asks questions: the revelers know why they are having a drink!

Gone is the grip of the United Kingdom, Belgium or France! We celebrate our freedom!

In Quebec, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Saint John is first of all the birthday of a distant cousin of Jesus who became famous throughout the world for his sheepskin skirts and for having his head cut off.

Saint-Jean is also used to mark the solstice and the beginning of the harvest. Then, from 1834 (thank you, Ludger Duvernay!), it became the celebration of French Canadians in our country. The Catholic Church will inevitably grab him. Finally, after the Quiet Revolution, it will be the turn of politics to take over.

This holiday has been the subject of a large number of appropriations. Poor Saint John is continually having his feast robbed. From up there, he must say to himself: plug in, baptism! (Excuse her!)

Patriotic, assertive, identity-based, political, stormy, folkloric, majestic and monumental, haywire on occasion, sometimes tasteless, resolutely consensual and inclusive today, Saint-Jean was all that.

This party had a thousand faces. God knows we’ve tried some, business!

Await the parades! The parades are over! Come on, let’s bring back the parades. Awaille the folklore! Folklore is over! Come on, we’re bringing back the vigils of the good old days. Awaille the little curly one with the sheepskin! Outside the little curly!

On this subject, did you know that the little Saint John the Baptist was so popular at the beginning of the XXe century that some parades had up to three? Faced with this serious problem, the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society had to adopt a regulation prohibiting the “presence of more than one Saint John the Baptist within the same procession”.

If you only knew how these details of our history make me happy!

I’m old enough to have lived through a few dozen St. John’s Day parties. And old enough to understand that the most grandiose ones were made… under the Liberal government of Robert Bourassa. I’m talking about 1975 (the year ofA little higher, a little further by Ginette Reno and of the creation of People of the country) and 1976 (the year ofonce five) where for days hundreds of thousands of people flocked to Mount Royal.

I am doing a bit of provocation by evoking Bourassa, but the fact remains that the latter was not afraid to be generous with the presidents of the festival committee (Lise Payette in 1975 and Jacques Normand in 1976) so that they produce large-scale shows .

Poor Bourassa… Did he know he was shooting himself in the foot? Was he aware that the artists who went on stage would contribute to his defeat and to the victory of the PQ on November 15, 1976?

Curiously, the first Saint-Jean under the reign of the PQ was one of the biggest flops in the history of national holidays. It took place at the Olympic Stadium on June 23 and 24. We wanted to do big. The idea was that the same show was presented two evenings in a row for the purposes of a television broadcast. And we know that a show that is designed for television is often a bad time for the spectators on site.

My former colleague Nathalie Petrowski wrote in The duty that the performances of Félix Leclerc, Monique Leyrac, Colette Boky and the Disciples de Massenet, in a sparse stadium, had aroused some boos from the young audience. The organizers had forgotten that these young people had come to watch the legendary show OK here we come June 26, 1976.

And that these same young people had brought the new government to power. wicked mistake of cast !

The national holidays of the 1970s were powerful because the people of Quebec felt in danger. Fifty years later, the danger is still there. But the voices that try to express it have trouble making themselves heard in the ambient din.

Before, the nationalists were all on the same side and were all marching in the same direction. Today, they are divided by different ideologies, thus creating friction between the political parties nevertheless dedicated to the same objectives. Do we need a Bilodeaugate five days before the national holiday?

I’m also old enough to have known the St. John’s Day celebrations of the 1980s, which, extinguished by a heartbreaking referendum, made large gatherings look sadly festive. I admit, like many other people of my generation, that’s when I started to be unfaithful to Paul Piché and Corbeau to rely on new wave groups.

Like Gainsbourg, I turned my jacket in the name of synthesizers, Shakespeare’s language and extreme hold styling gel.

La Saint-Jean continues to evolve and renew its image. Some branding experts would say she has a problem with branding.

What exactly are we celebrating in 2023? In the absence of independence, we must stick to our survival. Which remains a damn good reason to celebrate.

When I see a young woman like Léane Labrèche-Dor, whose grandfather was a great nationalist, become the spokesperson for this 189e national holiday, when I hear First Nations artists sing A musician among many others in 11 native languages, when I listen to Pierre-Yves Lord on the radio describe the shivers he had when he listened to the record for the first time 1 times 5it makes me want to celebrate, another time.

Basically, there is in this desire to find new meanings to our national holiday, something that sets us apart. And keep us alive.

Happy National Day, everyone! I hope you find your Saint-Jean!

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