How It All Began


Christmas in Canada was celebrated by two distinct groups of people: the French Canadians and the English Canadians. First, let's take a look at the French Canadians.

French Canadians focused more on Christmas Eve as the primary aspect of the holidays. The family would prepare for days for the main meal, the reveillon, and then decorate the Christmas tree before Midnight Mass. They also displayed the crèche, or Nativity scene. The reveillon, their Christmas Eve dinner, was a meal with meat pies, other dishes and a chocolate cake in the shape of a Yule log. The reveillon was also the time children can open small gifts in their stockings, saving the bigger gifts for New Year's Day. Christmas Day for French Canadian families was a time to relax and enjoy each other's company.

The English Canadians celebrated Christmas Day with gifts in the morning, a midday church service and a huge feast consisting of roast goose, beef and plum pudding. English Canadians also had the kissing ball, a ring of evergreen branches that symbolized the end of the winter solstice but was used by young men to steal kisses from single women beneath it.

The Boston Christmas Tree, the Canadian tradition of sending a Christmas tree to Boston every year during the holiday season, was the result of the Halifax Explosion over eighty years ago. Two ships collided on December 6, 1917, killing approximately 2,000 people and injuring at least 9,000 more. Hundreds of acres of land were destroyed by a tidal wave caused by the explosion. The town of Boston sent nurses, doctors, medical supplies and more to assist the Canadians and in thanks, the Canadians sent a Christmas tree. This tradition has continued throughout the years.




Copyright 2003 Mary E. Bishop