Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

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

December 20, 2016

December 20, 2016

Christmas Wishes From Overseas

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist
This article originally appeared in the Oshawa Express, Dec 21, 2011

In 2011, the archives acquired four Christmas cards sent from an Oshawa boy serving overseas during WWII.

Pte. Earl Hann was overseas serving as a member of the Canadian Corps, under the 8th Army, as World War II battled throughout Northern Africa and Italy.  This meant that he was away from his young family during the holiday season in 1944.

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A011.10.1, Christmas Card sent by Earl Hann

Standardized Christmas cards were made available to the soldiers so that they could let their family back home know that they were thinking of them.  The cards were really a single sheet of paper with a drawing on it meant to represent the area where the soldier was stationed.  Once the soldier had completed personalizing their card in the little space made available to them,  and the card was passed by the censors, the army would  copy the card and reduce the size so that it would be less expensive to send back home.

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A011.10.2 – Christmas Card sent by Earl Hann

Pte. Hann made the best of the limited space available to let him family know just how much he was missing them.  Three of the cards are addressed to his wife Irene with the fourth being addressed to his young daughter Joyce.

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A011.10.3, Christmas Card sent by Earl Hann

The lengthiest of the notes written by Pte. Hann also lets us know that the holiday season was extra special as his wedding anniversary also fell during that time.  He writes:

“Happy Anniversary My love.  With Best Wishes that this is our last spent apart.
All my love and Millions of Kisses
Forever yours
Earl”

He chose to send his daughter a card showing where her day was when he wasn’t with her.  The card has a map of the Mediterranean Sea, showing both Italy and North Africa.  This time the card is simply signed from “Daddy with all his love and best wishes for 1945”.

Pte. Hann was happily reunited with his family once the war was over and he went on to become a 50 year member of the Oshawa Historical Society.  It is fitting that these letters have found a home with a museum he loved so much.

December 19, 2016

December 19, 2016

St. Nicholas was a historic 4th-century saint and Greek Bishop of Myra in Lycia. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him.

Santa became popular in Christmas tradition when Sinter Klaus, Dutch for “Saint Nicholas,” was brought over by Dutch immigrants and they honored his death.  New York newspapers reported on this and his popularity grew!

St. Nicholas is the patron Saint of the Netherlands, and his feast day is observed every December 6, or December 19 in Eastern Christian countries.

December 18, 2016

December 18, 2016

Christmas is one week away? Have you decorated your tree yet?

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From the archival collection of the Oshawa Museum, December 1956

December 17, 2016

December 17, 2016

Going Home for Christmas

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist
This article originally appeared in the Oshawa Express, Dec 2012

For so many, the arrival of the holiday season often means travelling both near and far, as families come together to celebrate.  Travelling long distances for the holidays may seem like a more recent trend, what with the availability of cars, trains and airplanes, it turns out that this was not the case.  While it may be easier to travel now, the pull to be with family was just as strong  90 years ago when a rather large portion of Oshawa’s residents left the Town to travel home to family.

In the December 23, 1922 edition, the Oshawa Reformer wrote about just how many people were expected to travel from Oshawa during the holiday season.

“Enjoying as it does the reputation of being a great industrial center Oshawa has attracted many people from other towns and cities who are busily engaged here in helping to keep the wheels of industry turning.  With the approach of the holiday season hundreds of citizens are letting their thoughts turn homeward.  And judging by the statements made by local railway officials this morning approximately two thousand people employed in local factories and offices will leave Oshawa for all parts of the Dominion to spend Christmas at their homes.”

At this time, Oshawa had a population of about 13 000.  That means that just over 15% of Oshawa’s population travelled out of town to visit family.  Of that 2000 the odd person might have owned a car but, as the article suggests, most would have been travelling by rail.

If you are travelling this holiday season, remember that you are a part of a time honoured tradition of Oshawa residents taking time to celebrate with family and friends.

December 14, 2016

December 14, 2016

 

Canada’s oldest Christmas song is Huron Carol, believed to be written around 1642 by the French Jesuit missionary  Jean de Brébeuf at St. Marie Among the Hurons, near current day Midland, Ontario.  It was originally written in the Huron language, and the English version, “‘Twas in the moon of wintertime,” was written by Jesse Edgar Middleton in 1926. The tune is related to a 16th-century French song, “Une jeune pucelle.”

December 13, 2016

December 13, 2016

If you visit the National Capital Region in Ottawa/Gatineau during the holiday season, you will be able to enjoy Christmas Lights Across Canada.  First launched in 1985, this program was created to highlight landmarks and sites along Confederation Boulevard, including Parliament Hill, national museums, monuments, embassies and other prominent institutions.  Christmas Lights Across Canada also helps to add vibrancy to the Capital during the winter months and it kicks off the holiday season in Canada’s Capital Region. This year, the program started on December 7 and will continue through the month of December.


Information from http://canada.pch.gc.ca/eng/1445434981160