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Joyeuses (Happy) Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day!

Samuel Champlain's Québec Home
Home of Samuel Champlain, courtesy of Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales

June 24th is the official holiday for St. John the Baptist, known in French as Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste. This day is celebrated in several countries, and it may be on its way to becoming more popular in the United States. The holiday was initially celebrated in North America during the 1600's, featuring bonfires, cannon shots, and feasting. Today, there are still bonfires and feasting, along with parades, fireworks, music, and lots of parties!

Samuel Champlain is the explorer credited with establishing Québec in the 1600's. One wonders if festivities took place at his home, seen in the sketch above and found at the Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales. (Just note that the Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec reconfigured its online catalog around the time of this article, so the link may only work on a laptop or desktop. Cell phones seem to have issues with retrieving the map.) As noted in the sketch, the gardens were neatly arranged at the base of his dwelling. It is known that Champlain eventually planted roses, and he was hopeful for the future of agriculture in Québec. During his explorations, he noted wild fruit such as plums, raspberries, strawberries, currants, and cherries. If they did celebrate at this dwelling, then they did not have to rely on the garden for feasting. Like others, he also noticed grapevines growing in profusion. Like the rest of North America, viticulture was a challenge surmounted much later than most other crops.

Here at Floramont, celebrations will be quite tame compared to our Québecois counterparts north of the border, but there will still be a celebration in little ways. For example, some people in Québec and parts of New England still enjoy tapping maple syrup from trees, just like their ancestors. There may not be a rowdy party at Floramont, but there will be some maple syrup on waffles, perhaps topped with a few wild berries. Like Champlain's Québec in the early 1600's, any potential wine will have to be imported for now!


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