Wednesday, June 24, 2009
La Fête nationale du Québec, the national holiday of the Canadian province of Quebec is celebrated annually on June 24th, St. John the Baptist Day.
The feast day of St. John the Baptist, celebrating the birth of Jesus' cousin, was a very popular event in France from the 14th to 18th centruries and migrated to Canada with the first French colonists as far back as 1636.
Inspired by the 1834 St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Montreal, the publisher of the newspaper La Minerve, Ludger Duvernay got the idea to organize a similar event for French Canadians. In addition to the traditional bonfires of St. John the Baptist Eve, parades were eventually organized and became part of the tradition as well.
In 1843, Duvernay established the St. John the Baptist Society to promote French-Canadian interests within Canada and preserve the French language and culture and Roman Catholic religion. In 1880 the society organized a gathering of all French communities across North America, the National Congress of French Canadians. It was at this gathering that "O Canada" was first performed. Based on a poem by Adolphe-Basile Routhier, the song was commissioned by Théodore Robitaille. An English translation did not appear until 1906 and it was not until 1908 that Robert Stanley Weir wrote an English version, which was not a translation of the French lyrics.
"O Canada" would not officially become Canada's national anthem until 1980.
In 1908, Pope Pius X designated St. John the Baptist as the patron saint of French Canadians and in 1925, June 24th became a legal holiday in Quebec for all it's citizens, not just those of French Canadian or Catholic origins.
Just in case you were interested, here is the translation of the French lyrics of "O Canada";
Land of our forefathers
Thy brow is wreathed with a glorious garland of flowers.
As is they arm ready to wield the sword,
So also is it ready to carry the cross.
They history is an epic of the most brilliant exploits.
They valour steeped in faith
Will protect our homes and our rights
Will protect our homes and our rights.
Our featured jersey today is a CCM 1992-93 Quebec Nordiques Joe Sakic jersey from the CCM Vintage Collection Throwback Series. Seeing how much collectors were spending for original Nordiques and Minnesota North Stars jerseys, CCM knew there was an opportunity to make some money by capitalizing on the obvious demand for throwbacks, first introduced during the NHL's 75th Anniversary season of 1991-92 when the Original Six teams all wore throwback jerseys.
Much better quality than the original, undersized and lightweight (to the point of being see-through) replica jerseys of the 80's, many retired styles were remade with the current-for-the-time 550 Series replica model, which provided fans with a very high quality replica for the price.
The Nordiques jersey is by far and away the one NHL jersey from that time period that most represented the flag of the state or province the team played in, and for that reason has always been one of my favorite jerseys.
This jersey also features the rare French version of the Stanley Cup Centennial patch, worn only the the Nordiques and their Quebec neighbors, the Montreal Canadiens, which reads "Coupe Stanley". If you look very closely at the shield on the players chest, you can also see that it reads "LNH" for "Ligue Nationale de Hockey", French, of course, for "NHL".
Sakic was originally chosen 15th overall by the Nordiques at the 1987 draft. He originally wore #88 because his preferred #19 was already taken by Alain Côté, who retired after Sakic's rookie season, allowing Joe to reclaim it in time for his second year. He was first named co-captain in 1990-91, along with Steve Finn, for home games only while Finn was captain on the road. He became the team's sole captain for the 1992-93 season and has remained so ever since.
After finishing last in the entire league for three straight seasons from 1988-89 to 1990-91, Sakic led the improved Nordiques, thanks in no small part to the Eric Lindros trade which brought in Swede Peter Forsberg among others, to the Adams Division title in the 1994-95 season, the team's last in Quebec City.
Yes, that was a quite young Avril Lavigne.