Archive for December 2016

December 31, 2016

December 31, 2016

Happy Hogmanay!

Hogmanay is the Scottish word for the last day of the year, or New Year’s Eve.  Customs vary throughout Scotland, however, they traditionally include giving of gifts and visiting the homes of friends and neighbours.  Special attention is given to the first-foot, a Scottish and Northern English custom, established in folklore. The first-foot is the first person to cross the threshold of a home on New Year’s Day, regarded as a bringer of good fortune for the coming year. The first-foot usually brings several gifts, perhaps a coin, bread, salt, coal, or a drink (usually whisky), which respectively represent financial prosperity, food, flavour, warmth, and good cheer.

Another custom which is prevalent in Scottish celebrations and others is the singing of Auld Lang Syne, a poem by Scottish poet Robbie Burns, written in 1788.  The tune to which it is traditionally sung is an old Scottish folk tune.

From all of us at the Oshawa Museum, Happy Hogmanay and Happy New Year!

December 30, 2016

December 30, 2016

There is one more day left in 2016.

Today is steeped in history.

On this day: 

1813 – War of 1812: British soldiers burn Buffalo, New York.
1896 – Canadian ice hockey player Ernie McLea scores the first hat-trick in Stanley Cup play, and the Cup-winning goal as the Montreal Victorias defeat the Winnipeg Victorias 6–5.
1903 – A fire at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago, Illinois kills at least 605.
1919 – Lincoln’s Inn in London, England, UK admits its first female bar student.
1922 – The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is formed.
1936 – The United Auto Workers union stages its first sitdown strike.
1981 – In the 39th game of his third NHL season, Wayne Gretzky scores five goals, giving him 50 on the year and setting a new NHL record previously held by Maurice Richard and Mike Bossy, who earlier had each scored 50 goals in 50 games.
2005 – Tropical Storm Zeta forms in the open Atlantic Ocean, tying the record for the latest tropical cyclone ever to form in the North Atlantic basin.

And if today is your birthday, then you share with these individuals:

1865 – Rudyard Kipling, English author and poet, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1936)
1869 – Stephen Leacock, English-Canadian political scientist and author (d. 1944)
1928 – Bo Diddley, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2008)
1935 – Sandy Koufax, American baseball player and sportscaster
1940 – James Burrows, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter
1945 – Davy Jones, English singer-songwriter and actor (d. 2012)
1949 – Jim Flaherty, Canadian lawyer and politician, MP for Oshawa-Whitby, 37th Canadian Minister of Finance (d. 2014)
1953 – Meredith Vieira, American journalist and game show host
1957 – Matt Lauer, American television journalist and anchor
1961 – Douglas Coupland, German-Canadian author and playwright
1975 – Tiger Woods, American golfer
1980 – Eliza Dushku, American actress and producer
1984 – LeBron James, American basketball player and producer
1986 – Ellie Goulding, English singer-songwriter and producer

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Douglas Coupland’s Group Portrait 1957, installed at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, ON. Coupland celebrates a birthday on December 30!

December 29, 2016

December 29, 2016

Valleyview Park, Oshawa, c. 1950

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December 28, 2016

December 28, 2016

In 2016, Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated from sunset on December 24 to nightfall on January 1, 2017.  Because the Jewish calendar is based on the lunar rather than the solar year, the date of Hanukkah moves about on the calendar and can land anywhere between November 25th and December 26th.

Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish people’s successful rebellion against the Greeks in the Maccabean War in 162 BCE.  After the victory, a ritual re-dedication was to take place in temple.  Oil that was only expected to last one night instead lasted eight nights.  This was seen as miraculous, and to celebrate this miracle, Hanukkah began and has been celebrated for over 1500 years.

Iconic of Hanukkah is the menorah, a nine branched candelabrum; on the first evening of Hanukkah one candle is lit and special prayers are said. On the second evening two candles are lit, and so on. The rest of the evening is spent singing songs, playing games, telling Hanukkah stories, and enjoying special holiday foods.

Children may also celebrate Hanukkah by spinning the dreidel, Each side of the dreidel bears a letter of the Hebrew alphabet: נ (Nun), ג (Gimel), ה (He), ש (Shin), which together form the acronym for “נס גדול היה שם” (Nes Gadol Hayah Sham – “a great miracle happened there”).

December 27, 2016

December 27, 2016

Have you seen any of the holiday blockbusters this year? If you were a movie-goer in 1927, you might have viewed Clara Bow’s latest film, Get Your Man, which played at the Regent Theatre on December 26, 27, and 28 that year.

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What was this movie about? As IMDB describes, “A young American girl in Paris falls in love with a handsome nobleman, but he is about to wed in an arranged marriage. She hatches a plan to overcome that obstacle and get her man.”

Clara Bow was a star of the silent film era, and her appearance in the movie ‘It’ helped solidify her position as, and coin the term, an ‘It Girl’ (I don’t know what It is, but she’s got It!).

December 26, 2016

December 26, 2016

Did you know that December 26th is National Candy Cane Day? It took a Church Choirmaster to create candy canes from straight sugar cane candies in order shut the mouths of talkative church going children. The cane shape is said to represent a Sheppard’s staff.  The first candy canes weren’t as colourful as we know them to be, rather they were plain white; the red and white striped candy canes were introduced in 1900.

December 26 is also Boxing Day in Canada, the UK, and other Commonwealth nations.  It isn’t a day reserved for the sport of Boxing (as I naively thought as a child!), but rather Boxing Day originated in England, where the word “boxing” refers to the distribution of small gifts of money.

December 25, 2016

December 25, 2016

From all of us at the Oshawa Museum and Oshawa Historical Society, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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December 24, 2016

December 24, 2016

This is the sixth year we have shared stories on our Victorian Advent Blog.  As we have done since the beginning, on Christmas Eve, we share the classic poem, A Visit From St. Nicholas, by Clement C. Moore, originally published in 1823.

We wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday.

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house.
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,

With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

December 23, 2016

December 23, 2016

The following appeared in the Ontario Reformer, December 23, 1922 (page 12)

The Christmas Spirit in Northland

To-day I looked upon a world that is fair to see; its virgin-white drapery, is green and grey mottled woodlands, clear skies welcome sunlight, the cheerful song of chickadees and blue-jays, the antics of the scolding squirrels. Underfoot the snow scrunched and squeaked, signifying it was just cold enough for a comfortable ramble, and so I visited the deer “yard” and was glad to see the wolves had not yet molested them, their criss-cross runaways along which I surprised several who peered at one with large, pathetic eyes and then walked into the deeper shade of the cedars. How picturesque the beaver-house looked, miniature like mosques among the tamarac from which a lone Arctic Wood-pecker tapped for its dinner. Along the glare ice I walked and slid a crossing the slithering like trail of three otter and a mink. I had seen and enjoyed nature in her true shape. And now I lean back in the old rocking chair and the flickering spluttering fireplace awakens memories. And my thoughts drift back towards civilization and crowed cities and I remember that on this the 25th day of December, the world that we know of becomes a veritable brotherhood of man, on this day at least the disparity in the class distinction is wiped away in a common emotion of good-will. It stairs up our dormant feelings, it makes us forget our cares and troubles for this one day at least we are happy. Why cannot we live more days in the year in the same spirit, why confine all our goodness, charitable inclinations and good will to one day?  Humanity is strangely ignorant of its simplest emotions. In a vague way we know that happiness and pleasure comes from our consciousness of doing right, but we don’t always live up to this precept, excepting perhaps this one day of the year. Who knows but from the well spring of this most memorable time that brotherhood of man may arise to glorify in truth that old, old saying, “Peace on earth, good will to men”. And here buried as it were in the depths of the Northland woods, far removed from the sound of the church bells and close fellowship of men, one still feels that happy, contented-like infection that Christmas brings. It is good to live and be contented with your lot and look forward to the coming year with the same spirit that this day of days brings to come.
-Miskokway.

December 22, 2016

December 22, 2016

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe, help to make the season bright! The word “mistletoe” derives from an Anglo-Saxon phrase meaning dung on a twig.  This stems from the fact that their seeds were often spread through the droppings of birds. The custom of kissing underneath mistletoe started in Victorian England, it traditionally, it was bad luck to refuse such a kiss.

Kissing boughs differ from mistletoe in appearance, but traditionally they had the same superstitions surrounding it. Although popular in England, were not present in Ontario during the 19th century.

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Kissing Bough hanging in the Henry House hallway