Christmas In Canada

In Canada, from 1875 onwards, Christmas lost its essentially religious character, at least for Anglophones and the upper middle class. Little by little it became a community festival which gave rise to much family merry-making. New customs began to take root. Henceforth, the decorated Christmas tree, the crche with its santons or plaster figures, gifts and the Christmas "rŽveillon" became part of family tradition.

We decorate a pine tree with ornaments representing Christmas, buy or make each other presents that get wrapped in wrapping paper to be put under the tree so they can be opened on Christmas Day. Santa Claus is the person that who brings the presents. You aren't supposed to know what you're going to get, so that is part of the fun of Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, December 24th, there is usually a turkey dinner and in the middle of the night, Santa Claus is said to come down the chimney and place the presents under the tree. Then he goes back up the chimney (he's magic) and flies to the next house in his sleigh with 9 reindeer pulling it through the air (it flies). On Christmas Day, all the presents are opened.

Noël à Québec

Francophones, however, incorporated these new practices into their culture much later. After the First World War, increasing commercial advertising drew Francophones into the dizzy festive activities. During the 1930s, the working classes also joined this happy Christmas rush.

In QuŽbec, which is the French-speaking part of Canada, we celebrate Christmas by putting up a big Christmas tree, sometime before Christmas. Many people also put a Christmas tree outside with colured lights. Usually we have lots of snow by the time Christmas comes around and it looks very festive. Most people eat turkey for their Christmas dinner, but in the old days people used to eat Tourtire, which is a sort of stew made of a layer of meat, a layer of potatoes, a layer of onions, another layer of meat, potatoes, onions and so on till it is big enough. A layer of pastry goes on top to cover and then you cook it for a long time. Christmas dinner is called "Reveillon" (waking up) and it is eaten when people come back from Midnight Mass, maybe at two o'clock in the morning.

In our family we get a Christmas tree just before Christmas and the next day we decorate it. For Christmas Eve we usually eat duck and then rice pudding with almonds. Afterwards we open the presents from our family - and the next morning we open the ones from Santa Claus. Then my sister and I play with our presents and my parents read the newspaper. For Christmas dinner we have nut loaf and Christmas pudding with custard.

In QuŽbec the end of Christmas is called La fte du Roi (on the 6th of January). For this you make a cake which has a bean inside it. The person who gets the bean is the king (or queen).

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