Communal Festivities in Canada : XIXth and XXth Centuries

In Canada, Christmas traditions have come from many countries. France has given us its celebration of the Nativity with its old carols, Germany the Christmas tree and its many ornaments and England, greeting cards. Ireland has bequeathed us the ancient Gaelic custom of putting lights in windows. The United States has provided Santa Claus and Czechoslovakia and Japan have produced a flood of Christmas tree and interior home decorations of all kinds.

The 1880s marked a turning point in the celebration of Christmas in Canada after which the Anglophone urban middle class began to adopt new practices. Henceforward Christmas was no longer observed uniquely as a religious festival but became a symbol of secular entertainment. Without doubt the central figure in these changes was Santa Claus. 


For the majority of Francophones, however, this transformation did not occur until after the First World War. Good old "Père Noël" moved very quickly from his minor role, becoming the pivotal figure for many community events.


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