It doesn’t matter whether you are an 11th generation Canadian like me, or whether you immigrated to Canada recently, there is no way to live in this country without the awareness of the religious and cultural celebration of Christmas in December. The evidence of this holiday is everywhere, from Santa Claus’ in malls, decorations in the stores, Christmas Carols playing on the radio, and to Christmas Lights on many houses….there is no escaping it.
Although this holiday is traditionally a Christian one, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. I have heard from people of other faiths saying that they have embraced the festive aspect of Christmas. They too partake in gift exchanges, holiday meals, and visits from friends and family.
For me, being raised up in the French-Canadian Catholic faith and tradition, I celebrated most of my childhood Christmas’ in Quebec. The celebration always started with a light meal in the early evening of December 24th, Christmas Eve. My cousins and I were told by our parents that we needed to be in bed very early, usually by 8pm, if we expected to get a ‘delivery’ of gifts from Santa after midnight. By 11:30pm, our parents woke us up, and we quickly made our way to the local church to celebrate Midnight Mass, where I remember excitedly singing French versions of Christmas songs like ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Joy to the World’.
We would arrive home shortly after 1AM, and this was when the real celebration began. We started the celebration by having a large feast called ‘Le Réveillon’, where we had traditional dishes like Tourtière (a special French-Canadian meat pie); pea soup; ragout de pattes de cochon (pig’s feet stew); and, of course, a bûche de Noël (Christmas Yule Log) for dessert. This large meal was followed by the opening of presents, which miraculously were found in abundance under the Christmas tree upon our return from Church. Of course, you can’t forget the dancing, the drinking (by the adults of course), and the music. We were often up until well passed 5:00 am. Christmas day, from what I remember, was a day to sleep in, play with our toys, eat left-overs, and dealing with grumpy adults, who were recovering from their hangovers.
If you celebrate Christmas, what childhood memories do you recall? If you don’t celebrate Christmas, perhaps you celebrate another holiday which brings you fond memories.
This year’s First Oakville Toastmasters’ Christmas party is taking place on Thursday, December 7th from 6:30 to 9:30pm at O’Finn’s Irish Temper. Tickets are on sale now. You can pick them up from your closest Christmas Party Committee Representative.