December 3, 2016

December 3, 2016

The oldest secular Christmas song is Jingle Bells.  It was written in 1857 by James Pierpont, originally titled One Horse Open Sleigh and was written for Thanksgiving.

Did you know that Jingle Bells is also the first song to be transmitted from outer space? It was December 16, 1965 when astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sang Jingle Bells on board Gemini 6.  They smuggled bells and a harmonica on the space ship with them to accompany the song!  Stafford and Schirra later donated the harmonica and bells to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Space & Aeronautics in Washington DC, where they now sit on display.

All together now… Dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh!

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From the Archival collection of the Oshawa Museum

December 2, 2016

December 2, 2016

A treasured holiday event, Oshawa Museum staff always look forward to our Annual Lamplight Tour.  Held on the first Saturday of December, our historic houses are decorated for the season, and there are activities for all ages.

Here is a sampling of photographs from last year’s Lamplight. We hope you can join us on Saturday, December 3, 6-8pm, for Lamplight 2016.

December 1, 2016

December 1, 2016

In just 24 days, Santa Claus will begin his busiest day of the year, delivering presents to children all around the world.  Scientists in the United States have calculated that Santa would have to visit 822 homes a second to deliver all the world’s presents on Christmas Eve, travelling at 650 miles a second.¹ Good thing he’s magic.

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1 Source.

November 1, 2016

November 1, 2016

Welcome to the Oshawa Museum’s Victorian Advent Calendar! Every day through the month of December, we share photographs, postcards, trivia, and stories of holiday traditions!

We’re one month away from the start of December. Before we share new posts for the 2016 holiday season, check out our archives and view posts from the past five years!

See you in December!

December 31, 2015

December 31, 2015

Auld Lang Syne

At midnight tonight, after shouting ‘Happy New Year,’ many will recite the well-known poem by Scottish poet Robbie Burns, Auld Lang Syne, written in 1788.  The tune to which it is traditionally sung is an old Scottish folk tune.

From us at the Oshawa Community Museum, have a wonderful New Years.

From the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

From the Oshawa Community Archives Collection


 

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne*?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup!
and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak’ a right gude-willie waught,
for auld lang syne.

December 30, 2015

December 30, 2015
Lakeview Park, Oshawa, 1937

Lakeview Park, Oshawa, 1937

December 29, 2015

December 29, 2015

If you’re enjoying a break between Christmas and New Years and are looking for a winter activity, why not build a snowman.  This photograph from Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / The National Library of Wales can be your inspiration.  It is the oldest known photograph of a snowman, dating to the 1850s.

From

From Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / The National Library of Wales

December 28, 2015

December 28, 2015

Mummering

With a nation as large and diverse as Canada, it makes sense that different regions would have different traditions for celebrating this holiday season.  One such example is in Newfoundland and Labrador who take part in mummering.

What is mummering? It involves groups dressing up in costumes and often masks and travelling door to door spreading cheer.  If the mummers are welcomed into a house, they might partake in informal performances, including dance, music, jokes, or recitations.  Because the mummers are disguised, the hosts will have to guess their identity before offering them food or drink; the hosts will try many ways to get the mummers to reveal who they are, and in turn, the mummers go to great lengths to disguise their true identities.  Once guessed, the mummers will stay and visit with the hosts, before moving onto another home.

The earliest recording of mummering in Newfoundland dates to 1819, however it is likely to have taken place earlier.

December 27, 2015

December 27, 2015

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday which falls between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  It was founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a University of California at Los Angeles professor from Nigeria; he chose this seven day period for the observance in order to provide African Americans an alternative to Christmas, which he viewed as a European holiday. He also wanted to make Kwanzaa easy to celebrate by placing it during a week when many people were already celebrating and had time off from work or school. Kwanzaa Begins on December 26 and ends on the 1st of January.

Dr. Karenga hoped that the new holiday, based on practices and symbols associated with African harvest festivals, would provide an ethnic celebration that all African-Americans could observe, regardless of religious affiliation. He also sought to create a holiday that emphasized communal and spiritual values, rather than the materialism he found rampant in American Christmas celebrations.

Karenga created the word “Kwanzaa” from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, which means ‘first fruits.’ Many African first fruit celebrations, or harvest festivals, last between seven and nine days. Accordingly, Karenga decided to have the new American festival continue for seven days. He added the extra ‘a’ to the Swahili word kwanza so that the name was a new holiday, Kwanzaa, would contain seven letters.

Karenga selected seven principles from among the values most commonly held in high esteem by the people of Africa and honoured in their harvest celebration. One of the seven principles of Kwanzaa is celebrated on each of the seven days of the festival. The seven principles include umoja (unity), kujichagulia (self-determination), ujima (collective work and responsibility), ujamaa (cooperative economics), nia (purpose), kuumba (creativity), and imani (faith). Kwanzaa celebrations also feature a seven-branched candleholder called a kinara. The kinara holds red, green and black candles, colours symbolic of the African identity. One candle is lit on each of the seven nights. On December 31st celebrants participate in a communal feast. Then on January 1st, the last day, modest gifts are exchanged.

Since its founding in 1966 Kwanzaa has steadily grown in popularity. Millions of people will observe this celebration each year.

 

Happy Kwanzaa!

December 26, 2015

December 26, 2015

The Christmas Truce

The Christmas Truce was a series of unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front around Christmas 1914; roughly 100,000 British and German troops were involved in the unofficial cessations.

In the week leading up to the Christmas holiday, German and British soldiers crossed trenches to talk, exchanging seasonal greetings. In areas, men from both sides ventured into no man’s land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs. This truce did not happen everywhere, as fighting continued in some sectors, while in others the sides settled on little more than arrangements to recover bodies.

This unofficial ‘truce’ was not reported on right away; in fact, many newspapers did not report on it until one week after.  the Toronto Globe had the following article published:

From The Globe, Toronto, December 31, 1914, pg. 2

From The Globe, Toronto, December 31, 1914, pg. 2

DESPATCHES ARE COMING THROUGH showing that at various points on the lines on Christmas Day the Germans and British soldiers fraternized, visited the trenches of the enemy, and swapped tobacco, Christmas cards, an no doubt plum pudding.  The informal truce was so generally observed that at one point the British and German soldiers swarmed out in front of their trenches, met in the neutral ground between, and had photographs taken by some German offices.  That sort of snapshot is probably unique in war.

British and German troops meeting in No-Mans's Land during the unofficial truce.  From the collection of the Imperial War Museums.

British and German troops meeting in No-Mans’s Land during the unofficial truce. From the collection of the Imperial War Museums.