Continuing with the series on little stories from a booklet owned by John A. Walston which was in his library more than 100 years ago, we will take a look at French Canada.
For a more detail introduction of this series you may wish to pull up the original and the three previous ones: Denmark, England and Germany. You may check my Examiner page and find the link to all three.
Printed as written: Christmas in French Canada
“On Habitant country of the old Province de Quebec, echoes are given back to us of the ancient French Fete de Noel with its quaintness characteristic lightness of sprit and intense religious feeling.”
It presents isle on Christmas Even with all the mellow charm of an illuminated medieval manuscript and bears all its rich color and simple declaration of Faith, whether it be in the glory of the Cathedral Basilica or naïve setting of the country “Eglise.” (Eglise in French means church).
Christmas Day commences with a Midnight Mass of great splendor: this is followed by the Reveillion, an after-church supper in the home. The table is brightly set and carries a full array of native dishes, hams, turkeys, nuts, sweets and fruits, with the ubiquitous wine and liqueurs.
“A réveillon is a long dinner, and possibly a party, held on the evenings preceding Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The name of this dinner is based on the word réveil (meaning "waking"), because participation involves staying awake until midnight and beyond).
No exchange of gifts takes place at this time, this being reserved for New Year’s Day, when parties and festivities are at their highest.
The holiday season is brought to a close with the Feast of the Kings on Epiphany, January 6, and is celebrated with much cheer and merriment by social gatherings and house parties. (This Epiphany celebrates the coming of the three kings to visit the Christ Child).
It is this time that the traditional cake known as the “Le Gateau des Rois,” is cut. This cake has a pea and a bean in it and the King and Queen of Twelfth Night are elected by those receiving them: the party being thrown into jovial uproar as ridiculous edicts begin to issue from their subjects to follow.” ~~~~~~
If you are lacking in ideas for family get-to-gathers you might like to adopt some of these "merriments" like the “king cake.”
“In the United States, the tradition is observed in the Southeastern region of the country, particularly in New Orleans, Mobile, Pensacola, Galveston, and other towns and cities of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In this region, the king cake is closely associated with Mardi Gras traditions and is served throughout the Carnival season, which lasts from Epiphany Eve to Fat Tuesday.
The Christmas cake has a small trinket (often a small plastic baby, said to represent Baby Jesus) inside (or sometimes placed underneath), and the person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket has various privileges and obligations.
The "king cake" takes its name from the biblical three kings. In Catholic liturgical tradition, the Solemnity of Epiphany - commemorated on January 6 - celebrates the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. The Eve of Epiphany (the night of January 5) is popularly known as Twelfth Night (the Twelve Days of Christmas are counted from Christmas Eve until this night).
The season for king cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Twelfth Night and Epiphany Day), up until Mardi Gras, or "Fat Tuesday;" the day before the start of Lent. Some organizations or groups of friends may have "king cake parties" every week through the Carnival season.” Source Wikipedia
This celebration is as old at 1774 and is represented in the photo/paining above by Jean Baptiste Greuze (French Painter). Wonder how many folks in that time choked on the hidden trinket baked inside?
Perhaps a safer way to play this would be to prepare little sacks of cookies or other treats and put the prize inside; and the child who wins gets a special gift. Perhaps a young family with children might like to celebrate a tradition from another country each year teaching the children of the many ways one can worship the Christ Child. Over their growing up years, they will have learned a lot about the birth of Christ.
For information on Christmas celebrations in France you might enjoy this site.
The Three Kings visit the Messiah
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi (Kings) from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2
Wise men still worship Him today.
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