Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

December 14, 2018

December 14, 2018

In 2014, we created an exhibit for the front hall case of the McLaughlin Branch, Oshawa Public Library.  Can you recognize any toys from yesterday?



December 8, 2018

December 8, 2018

Looking for a few gift ideas. Perhaps this ad from the Ontario Reformer in 1915 could provide inspiration!

'a few suggestions for christmas presents' ontario reformer 1915.JPG

December 2, 2018

December 2, 2018

Today at sunset, the Festival of Lights or Hanukkah begins.  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”).

Happy Hanukkah!


From the Oshawa Museum’s archival collection; this display was part of an exhibit in the early 1990s, showcasing different holiday traditions.

December 1, 2018

December 1, 2018

One could theoretically plan a Christmas themed road trip around Canada.  Towns to visit include: Reindeer Station, NWT; Christmas Island, NS; Sled Lake, SK; Holly, ON; Noel, NS; Turkey Point, ON; and, Snowflake, MB.  It would be a long trip, mind, but it would be holly jolly indeed!

December 31, 2017

December 31, 2017

In Canada, December 31 is commemorated as the Levee.  It’s a social gathering held by the Governor General, Lieutenant General and the military in Canada. Levee had been celebrated for years, but it was first tied to New Year’s Eve, in Canada, in 1646. The Governor of New France held the levee in the Chateau St. Louis, and during the levee he informed the guests of what to look forward to in the new year and that they were expected to renew their allegiance to the Crown. The tradition of the levee continued after the Governor Charles Huault de Montmagny was no longer in charge.

Happy New Years Eve Everybody!


December 29, 2017

December 29, 2017

In 2013, the Oshawa Museum received a phenomenal collection of letters and papers from the Henry Family.  In February 1880, George Henry wrote to his mother Lurenda, the first letter may have sent since the passing of his father Thomas in September 1879.  Within this long letter, he tells his mother how he spent the new year, saying,

We went from there by invitation to John Edgars to take Newyears dinner and assisted in disposing of a fine turkey & goose. I have another invitation to meet with them on honour of the old gentlemans birth day on the 11th  inst when another turkey is to be slaughtered. (all spelling as originally written).

Not many letters touch on the holiday season, but this letter provides a small glimpse at how one Henry child marked the beginning of 1880.

Image177 - Polly Ann & George Henry

George and Polly Henry

December 26, 2017

December 26, 2017

From the Oshawa Museum, in Ontario, Canada, we wish all of our readers a Happy Boxing Day!  We’ve prefaced this greeting with our location, knowing that some of our readers may not be located in Canada or may not be familiar with Boxing Day, a statutory holiday in our country.

The origins of this holiday are based in England, where ‘boxing’ referred to the distribution of small gifts of money.  Some historians trace this back to the Middle Ages when parish priests would open up alms-boxes on December 26, the feast of St. Stephen, and distribute the money collected within to the needy.  By the 17th century, this tradition of giving boxes of money to adopt the practice of saving tips they had been given in clay boxes and opening them on December 26.  Because of the popularity of this tradition, people had taken to calling the day Boxing Day, and it was declared a holiday in England in 1871.  By the late 19th century, the custom of ‘boxing’ had faced a decline and slowly disappeared from the English holiday customs.

The day itself has survived as a holiday, and for many it may signify the day to ‘throw away boxes that presents came in,’ for others, it is a day for major savings in stores (the Canadian equivalent to America’s Black Friday), or perhaps it is a day many will spend with family, relaxing after a busy Christmas Day.

December 24, 2017

December 24, 2017

This is the seventh 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 22, 2017

December 22, 2017

On December 22, 1868, Cassius Stone and Clarissa Henry were married.  Clarissa was the 14th child of Rev. Thomas Henry and his wife Lurenda, and Cassius and Clarissa were married in Henry House.


The home of Clarissa and Cassius Stone in Woodville (west of Lindsay, ON)

It was Cassius and Clarissa’s wish to be married on Christmas Day, but because of Elder Tatton having to serve at the dedication service at the Ringwood Christian Church, they decided to have their ceremony performed on December 22 – in the many years that followed, they always celebrated their wedding day on Christmas.

December 21, 2017

December 21, 2017

The ever-popular Elf on the Shelf had returned to stores this holiday season promoting good behaviour in young children. The Elf arrives every December 1st and makes an appearance every morning until Christmas, playing with the children’s toys, and sometimes, making a mess. But where did the Elf on the Shelf tradition begin?

In 2005 a children’s picture book titled “The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition” was released by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell. The main concept of the Elf is simple, he is sent from the North Pole to watch over children for Santa. Every night the Elf would return to Santa and tell him about the children’s behaviour and before morning return back to take up a new position in the home for the children to find.

Throughout the years, the tradition of the Elf toy has transformed allowing parents to create new themes and concepts for the Elf to promote good behaviour for children all over. In the last decade, the Elf on the Shelf has been awarded the Learning Express’ Best Toy in 2008, 2009 and 2010.