Christmas is a magical time of year for many people in many countries. It is a time for tradition and goodwill, but, here in Canada, as in many countries, it has turned into a commercial enterprise where children dream of Santa, toys, and everything else the season has to offer. Christmas decorations go up in stores before Hallowe'en to remind us the "season of giving" is coming...and coming quick!!!!These days our children dream of computer games and Barbie dolls and all other kinds of expensive gifts that will be under the tree. Today a lot of the Christmas traditions that we have here in Canada are taken for granted with no thought of how they came about. I for one am completely guilty and have done just that and have not taken a look at the significance behind these traditions or where they originated in recent years. This seems to be a habit we all can fall into around the holidays, getting caught up in the shopping and commercialism that Christmas has become, and forgetting what Christmas is all about.
Did you also know that Canadians are especially proud to say that their country is the home of Santa Claus who lives at the North Pole?...although the people of Finland might disagree!!!
I have a challenge for you!!! How do you celebrate Christmas in your country or your home? I would like you to create a post on your blog about how you celebrate... your traditions, your countries traditions. Then let me know about it. You can email me here if you like with your post URL or just leave a comment here on this post. I am intersted in how everyone else celebrates .
Canada is a vast country with a diverse history. It was claimed by England in the 1400's and later in the 1600's by a French explorer Samuel de Champlain who founded Quebec City. There was a war and Canada became a country with two distinctive backgrounds living as one....French and English.
For the French Canadian Christmas Eve is the highlight of the holidays. They have prepared for days for the reveillon (the evening meal). They decorate their tree and place the creche (Nativity Scene) underneath the tree before going to Midnight Mass. When they arrive home from church there is traditionally a feast of tourtiere ( meat pie) and various other dishes ending with a Yule Log. Many families of French descent have a huge feast on Christmas Eve that lasts well into the early hours of Christmas morning . The children open their stockings this same night saving the big gifts for New Year's day. Christmas Day for the French is a day for relaxation and for children to play and have fun. At the end of the Christmas season, January 6th, people in the province of Quebec have a celebration called "La Fete du Roi" They bake a cake and place a bean in the middle. Whoever is the lucky discoverer of the bean, gets to be the king or queen, according to tradition. This is similar to a tradition in Spain.
Christmas for English Canadians focuses more on Christmas Day. Many people in Canada have to work on Christmas Eve, but it is also a day of preparation for the approaching holidays. Some people buy last-minute Christmas gifts for family members and friends while others wrap presents that they bought earlier. Many others, particularly those with small children, end the day by hanging up their Christmas stockings. Children are told that Santa comes to fill them with presents during the night. The story of Santa is so important to Christmas in Canada and the United States that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) maintains a website to allegedly 'track' Santa's movements on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is reserved for exchanging presents in the morning, off to church if you're so inclined, and back later for a huge feast. If a family is going to eat a traditional meal on Christmas Day, they might begin preparations on Christmas Eve as I do. A traditional Christmas Day meal often consists of roast turkey or goose with squash, turnips, potatoes and cranberry sauce as a main course and mince pies or plum pudding for dessert. However, people may eat dishes as diverse as clam chowder, spiced chicken wings or traditional food from the wide range of cultures represented in modern-day Canada.
Shub Naya Baras, Selamat Hari Krimas, Geseënde Kersfees
Even though the traditions of Christmas were well-established by the time Canada was settled by Europeans, early pioneers did not celebrate the holiday as we do today. Most pioneer families did not put up a Christmas tree. Firstly, small log cabins held no space for such a frivolous item. Secondly, United Empire Loyalists , who were some of the first Canadians, were of English, Scottish, and Irish descent and the tradition of the Christmas tree did not originate in these countries. It was not until Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, introduced the Christmas tree to England that United Empire Loyalists in Canada took on the tradition. Many families put up their Christmas tree and other decorations on Christmas Eve. However, some do this earlier in December and just save a few special decorations for later.
As the country grew early settlers in Canada came from a wide variety of cultural and religious backgrounds. People from each country and region in Europe who moved to Canada often brought their own customs centered on marking the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Present day celebrations consist of a mixture of these customs and the commercial influences that began in the late 1800s and continue today. Christmas today in Canada is a conglomerate of cultures and traditions from all over the world.
As an example the Christmas tree, Advent Calendar and gingerbread house come from Germany. The English introduced greeting cards (and Hallmark ran away with it), from Ireland came the custom of decorating our windows with lights, the United States and the Coca Cola Company gave us Santa Claus, and the French introduced the creche (Nativity) scene and carols. So really a Canadian Christmas is a mixture of various cultures combined to create the festivities we have come to know.
As I have mentioned before Canada is a very large country and people of many different cultural backgrounds live here. Because of this, there are many different Christmas traditions in Canada. Many of the traditions and celebrations come from French, English, Irish, Scottish, German and Aboriginal influences and have been passed down from generation to generation. In some regions, Eskimos observe a big winter festival called Sinck Tuck. It features dances, parties and exchanging gifts. Children in Labrador receive lighted candles pushed into hollowed out turnips that are saved from the summer harvest. Scottish highlanders, who settled in Nova Scotia, over two centuries ago sing British songs and carols on Christmas mornings. During the twelve days of Christmas, small groups of "belsnicklers" or "masked mummers", go from door to door, making rude noises and actions, ringing bells and asking for candy or other treats. If the hosts guess who the mummers are correctly, then they have to remove their disguise and stop behaving badly. Mummers interview the children and those who say that they have been good in the past year, receive candy as reward.
A very important holiday during the season is on December 26, the day after Christmas. For many Canadians, it is a day off work and a chance to visit the post-Christmas sales or watch hockey. Boxing Day is a holiday in the United Kingdom and many countries (including Canada) that were once part of the British Empire. The origin of this holiday's name is not clear. In feudal times in the United Kingdom, the lord of the manor would 'pay' people who worked on his land in the past year with boxes filled with practical goods, such as agricultural tools, food and cloth. These were often distributed on the day after Christmas Day. More recently, employers traditionally gave their servants a gift of money or food in a small box on the day after Christmas Day. Some people in Canada still give gifts to people who provide them with services such as our postal workers. Other stories relate to servants being allowed to take a portion of the food left over from the Christmas celebrations in a box to their families and the distribution of alms from the church collection boxes to poor parishioners. These traditions evolved into the Christmas baskets that some employers distribute to their employees during the holiday season at the end of the year.
How do we celebrate Christmas in the More Than Burnt Toast household?
With food of course!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You might be interested in some of our traditions:
They Asked for the Recipe Punch
Scottish 'Tattie Scones
Cheddar English Muffin Loaves
My Brother Neil's Shortbread Cookies
Chocolate Chunk Shortbread
Mom's Sugar Cookies
Maple Butter Tarts
Stuffed Artichoke Bread
Saltspring Island Cheese
Minnie Me Goat Cheese Tomato Tarts
Curried Chicken Mini Pitas
Goat Cheese and Tomato Tart
Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Chives