December, 2004 News

Canada’s First Christmas
    Canada celebrated its first Christmas in 1535 on the banks of the Ste-Croix River, near where the settlement of Quebec City grew into the province’s capital of today.
    The hardships that winter—cold, snow (which had to be melted for water), showing the first signs of scurvy (lack of vitamin C), and a continuous diet of salt meat and stale vegetables—were demoralizing to the one hundred and ten settlers.
    Also, when first exploring the area of Ile de Orleans the previous summer, Jacques Cartier met with local aboriginals, among them Chief Donnacona. At first, the settlers trusted them. However, in the days following when Jacques Cartier had taken two guides back to France with him, the settlers had become suspicious of the aboriginal, and always showed strength, even though they were becoming sick. They believed that the native peoples did not trust them, and were waiting for them to show signs of weakness so that they could attack them.
    Through all of this, they guarded their palisades faithfully, and through the Christmas Season, celebrated with as much cheeriness as they could muster, and the first time, Christmas was celebrated in Canada.
    If anyone has the chance to visit Quebec City during the Christmas Season, it is a scene not to be forgotten. The soft snow falling on the narrow streets just as the night begins is truly memorable.

Canada’s Christmas Carol

    Jean de Brébeuf, a Roman Catholic missionary to Quebec in the 1660s, wrote Canada’s first Christmas carol, “Jesus Ahatonnia”, Jesus is Born. It is a Huron Carol - a song about Jesus in a First Nations’ setting.

    To listen to this song in MP3 format, click here <Huron Carol.mp3>.

Canada’s Christmas Tree
    Every year—as in every year since 1917—Canada sends a Christmas Tree to Boston, Massachusetts to thank them for their help after the Halifax Explosion during the First World War. The explosion happened between a French munitions ship and a Belgian relief ship in Halifax Harbour, killing 1,900 and injuring 6,000 in the city.
    This year, on December 2nd, a tree from a Lunenburg County property in the province will be lit in Boston. This four-storey tree, donated by the Knickle Family, will be a reminder of the first to come and the last to leave, the people from Boston.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Joyeux Noël et Bonne Nouvelle Annee!

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