Christmas was essentially a religious festival in the early days of New France. In 1645, French colonists gathered together in a little church in Quebec City to attend Midnight Mass and began to sing Chantons Noé, an old Christmas carol that they had brought from their native land. The medieval words Noé ! Nau ! are still used to refer to Christmas.

The custom at this time was to distribute consecrated bread to those attending Midnight Mass. However, the distribution and particularly the privilege of preparing this bread sometimes gave rise to quarrels among the settlers.
A story about this is recounted in the 1660 volume Relations des jésuites (Relations of the Jesuits). At Christmas, the soldiers who had been given the task of making the bread, brought it to the altar during the Offertory to the sound of flutes and drums which greatly shocked the bishop of Quebec. But as the soldiers had brought him a piece of the bread, the bishop gave them in return two jars of brandy and a pound (454 g) of tobacco.