In the XIXth century French rural society, festivities were organized around the twelve days of Christmas. Regional differences were expressed through beliefs associated not only with the protection of goods and people and with forecasting the weather but also with the choice of the Christmas character responsible for distributing gifts, or with traditional recipes for Christmas dinner.
The 1880s marked a turning point in the celebration of Christmas in Canada after which the Anglophone urban middle class began to adopt new practices. Henceforward Christmas was no longer observed uniquely as a religious festival but became a symbol of secular entertainment. Without doubt the central figure in these changes was Santa Claus.
For the majority of Francophones, however, this transformation did not occur until after the First World War. Good old "Père Noël" moved very quickly from his minor role, becoming the pivotal figure for many community events.
|During the Christmas season, a number of churches and charitable organizations serve the poor and the destitute a traditional Christmas dinner (roast turkey with vegetables and dessert). Funded in 1910 by Reverend Pike, a Methodist Chruch minister, The Bissell Center has reached out to the Edmonton communitiy for over 80 years by providing services daily for the residents of the inner city. An annual Christmas dinner is cooked and served by volunteers to over 1 000 people on New Year's Day, allowing all involved to partake in the spirit of giving.|
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand,
Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared
for you from the foundations of the world:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat:
I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink:
I was a stranger, and ye took me in....
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these
my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Gospel of Matthew 25:34-35, 40.