Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Canadian Christmas Customs

June 24, 2018

Christmas Lights Across CanadaSettlers from many countries and many cultures contributed to the colorful Christmas customs shared by many Canadians today.  Yet they have all come together to form some traditions that are uniquely Canadian.

Since 1985, at 6:55 P.M. Ottawa-time in every province Christmas lights on every government building in Canada are turned on in a huge show of pomp and circumstance.  Many of the ceremonies are repeated nightly until January 7 and may include caroling, performances by local performers and national celebrities, light shows, fireworks, and Christmas treats.  While each ceremony may be similar in content each province adds its own cultural flare to the festivities.

On Christmas Eve many Canadians attend church services.  Churches of all sizes from the large cathedrals to the small-town churches offer the singing of the carols of Christmas, performances, and teachings on the meaning of Christmas.

Bringing Christmas trees into the house for decorating was introduced to Canada by German immigrants in the late 1700s or mid-1800s.  Now Canada is a major producer of Christmas producing about 6 million trees per year.  Nova Scotia, the Christmas Tree Province, produces over 1.5 million trees each year for sale in eastern Canada and the United States.  The province also ships Christmas trees to Central America, the Caribbean, and Venezuela.  Every year a 70-foot tree is sent to Boston, Massachusetts in appreciation of the help sent to Halifax from Boston in 1917 when a ship with a full cargo of explosives exploded in Halifax Harbour killing 19,00 people and destroying much of the city.

Many French Canadians still attend midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and participate in winter sports on Christmas Day.  Some still save their gift-giving for New Year’s Day, but others give their children presents on both Christmas and New Year’s Day.  On New Year’s Day many enjoy a lavish turkey dinner with family and/or friends.

Christmas cards were and are a favorite way for Canadians to keep in touch with friends and family who lived afar off.  Christmas cards first appeared in Canada in 1876.

In 1905, the Eaton’s department store sponsored the first Santa Claus Parade in Toronto.  The parade has grown in popularity and is now the largest Christmas parade in Canada.  Because of the success of the Toronto parade other cities started having Christmas parades of their own.

For years Canadians of all ages and especially British Canadians have spent Christmas afternoon either watching on TV or listening to the radio as the queen of England gives her annual message to the Commonwealth.

The Christmas season ends for British Canadians on January 6 with the Feast of the Epiphany or Twelfth Night.  A bean and a pea are baked into the Twelfth Night cake.  The people who find them in their piece of cake become the king and queen of the night’s festivities.

The First Nations Peoples of Canada includes all groups of people who lived in what is now North America prior to colonization by the Europeans.  Many of them held festivals during the winter season, such as winter solstice festivals featuring feasting, singing, dancing, drumming, racing competitions, and games of strength such as wrestling. 

Missionaries from the colonies taught these peoples the Christian Christmas customs they held dear.  Many of the First Nations Peoples started celebrating Christmas also mixing the old winter festival customs with the Christmas traditions brought by the missionaries.  Now many of the festivals include giving gifts and good things to children and to others.  Even Santa Claus visits these people with gifts and merry making at their Christmas festivities.

Canada’s Christmas customs have come from a wide variety of cultures.  They have given Canada a set of Christmas traditions unmatched anywhere in the world.  Yet they still have formed their own set of national Christmas customs. 

Merry Christmas!  Joyeux Noel!

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Traditional Canadian Christmas Dishes

May 25, 2018

Next month I hope to present Canada’s Christmas customs.  Therefore, I am giving you four recipes from the book Christmas in Canada from World Book that are traditionally found in a Canadian Christmas feast.

Fruit Fool

½ cup sweetened whipping cream
1 cup unsweetened applesauce or other fruit puree
¼ tsp almond extract

Whip cream until stiff.  Fold in fruit puree and almond extract.  Chill mixture in refrigerator.  Serve with fresh fruit or shortcake.

Makes 4 servings

 

Mulled Cider

1 quart apple cider
4 or 5 whole cloves
cinnamon stick

In a medium saucepan, mix together ingredients over medium heat; heat well, but do not allow to boil.

Makes 4 servings.

 

Maple Syrup Pie

Pastry for a 9-inch single-crust pie
¼ cup flour
½ cup water
1 cup maple syrup
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tbsp butter whipped cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Line 9-inch pie pan with pastry; prick several times with a fork.  Bake pie shell for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Allow pie shell to cool.  Mix flour and water until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, stir together flour mixture and maple syrup.  Stir in egg.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick.  Add butter and stir until melted.

Pour mixture into cooled pie shell.  Allow pie to cool at room temperature until set.  Serve topped with whipped cream.

Makes 8 servings.

 

Molasses Taffy

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups molasses
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
¼ cup butter

In a large saucepan, mix together sugar, molasses, corn syrup, and water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until temperature on a candy thermometer reaches just below the soft crack stage (268 degrees F) or until sugar is dissolved.

Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until a small amount of mixture threads when dropped into cold water.  Remove from heat and stir in butter.  Pour slowly onto a buttered slab or buttered cookie sheet on a cooling rack.  Allow to cool slightly, then pull with your fingertips, allowing a spread of about 18 inches between your hands.  Fold mixture back on itself.  Repeat this motion rhythmically until the mixture forms a glistening ribbon and the ridges on the twist begin to hold their shape.  Roll mixture into long, thin strips.  Cut into pieces and place on buttered wax paper.

Makes about 2 pounds.

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