Orangeman’s Day

Thankfully the governments of most countries avail their population of the benefit of statutory public summer holidays. We’re familiar with Canada Day (formerly Dominion Day on July 1st to mark 1867 Confederation of central and eastern settlements as one dominion within the British empire until the patriation of the constitution in 1982) and Independence Day in the United States of America  (July 4th to mark independence in 1776 from British rule). In France they celebrate Bastille Day (July 14th to mark the storming of the Bastlle prison and fortress in 1789 at the start of the French Revolution).

Despite inheriting tremendous debts from his predecessor, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette continued to spend extravagantly, such as by helping the American colonies win their independence from the British. By the late 1780s, France’s government stood on the brink of economic disaster.

Lesser known is St Jean Baptist Day which isn’t considered a national holiday in Canada.

Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (French: Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste, la Saint-Jean, Fête nationale du Québec), also known in English as St John the Baptist Day, is a holiday celebrated on June 24 in the Canadian province of Quebec and by French Canadians across Canada and the United States. It was brought to Canada by French settlers celebrating the traditional feast day of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. It was declared a public holiday in Quebec in 1925, with publicly financed events organized province-wide by a Comité organisateur de la fête nationale du Québec.

Perhaps now even lesser known (or at least more uncommonly now celebrated throughout Ontario but reportedly popular as a local holiday in Newfoundland and Labrador) is Orangeman’s Day on July 12th.

The Twelfth (also called the Glorious Twelfth or Orangemen’s Day) is an Ulster Protestant celebration held on 12 July. It began in the late 18th century in Ulster. It celebrates the Glorious Revolution (1688) and victory of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne (1690), which ensured a Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland.

Based on the summertime persuasion of these events one has to question whether the weather had anything to do with the commonality; and whether to this day it continues to inspire or motivate the celebrations (which predominantly have now descended to mere gasping at fireworks and gorging at the trough). Hardened religious battles preposterously incite differences on occasion but the burgeoning disfavour with religion generally and worldwide is making the preservation of those ridiculous contests less likely.

Since its beginning, the Twelfth has often been accompanied by violence between Ulster Protestants and Catholics, especially during times of political tension. Protestant loyalists see the Twelfth as an important part of their culture, while Catholic Irish nationalists see many aspects of it as sectarian, triumphalist and supremacist. Flag-burning on Eleventh Night bonfires, and Orange marches through Catholic neighbourhoods, have been especially controversial. The Drumcree conflict is the most well-known dispute involving Orange marches. Sectarian violence around the Twelfth worsened during the Troubles, but today most events pass off peacefully. Recently there have been attempts to draw tourists to the main Twelfth parades and present them as family-friendly pageants.