In Quebec, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, Fête nationale du Québec et de la Francophonie canadienne, is a statutory (public) holiday on June 24 each year. This year, June 24 falls on a Wednesday. Even during COVID-19, this day remains a public holiday.
It is important to note that an employer is not allowed to move the National Holiday to another business day. The Act respecting labour standards only allows the movement of the holiday when it falls on a Sunday; the holiday is pushed to June 25 (except for workers who usually work on Sunday).
All employees in Quebec are entitled to the holiday even if they are not covered by the Act respecting labour standards. Public holiday pay for the national holiday is equivalent to 1/20th of the wages earned during the four complete weeks of pay preceding the week of the holiday, excluding overtime. Employees in a workplace that cannot close on the 24th due to the nature of the work must be given a paid holiday on either the working day immediately before or after June 24 or be paid statutory holiday pay for the day, plus their regular rate for the hours worked that day.
For federally regulated and federal employees working in Quebec, their right to the June 24 holiday depends on their union contracts or employment contracts.
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Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day origins
Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day originated from celebrations of the summer solstice.
In France, the Roman Catholic Church adapted the holiday and associated it with John the Baptist.
Every year, Saint-Jean-Baptiste celebrations were organized throughout Quebec; the largest ones being held in Quebec City and Montreal.
In 1925, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day became a statutory holiday in Quebec.
In 1947, the Saint-Jean-Baptiste societies of Quebec formed a federation that campaigned in favour of adopting the fleur-de-lys as the province’s flag. Accordingly, in January 1948, Quebec adopted an official flag that became a rallying symbol in Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day celebrations.
In the the 1960s and 1970s, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day became less about religion and more about culture, art and unity. In June 1972, the Fédération des Sociétés Saint-Jean-Baptiste du Québec became the Mouvement national des Québécois.
In June 1977, the government renamed Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day the Fête nationale du Québec, ultimately distancing it from religion.
To commemorate the religious aspect of the National Holiday, masses are still held the morning of June 24 and during the Solstice des Nations, a traditional ceremony held as part of National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 each year.
Many francophone communities outside Quebec also celebrate Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day.
Click here to view a list of activities happening in your area. However, due to COVID-19, many events and attractions on this day may be cancelled or closed. Check before heading out.