Buying Food at Christmas

In Canada, in the days leading up to Christmas, food was bought both for "réveillon" and for Christmas dinner. Grocers inserted lavish advertisements in newspapers to publicize their products and to attract as many customers as possible.

In the 1860s, some merchants decorated the inside of their shops with holly garlands and dried flowers to create a holiday atmosphere. Some who were shrewder than others went so far as to offer a free gift to all their customers: holly leaves or mistletoe balls. As the orders flooded in, grocers hastened to increase the number of delivery vans to satisfy their customers’ needs.

A large variety of food was offered for sale at this period, including much fresh fruit: oranges, lemons, limes, grapes, figs and plums. There were also cheeses imported from Europe and the United States, fruit pies, and for wealthier customers, Russian caviar or game from England.

All kinds of already prepared or tinned food was also available, like tomato (a novelty) or turtle soup, or different pâtés made from liver, duck, snipe and shrimp. Nor was there any lack of variety in the drinks on offer. Wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Sauternes, Champagne, Rhine wines, Port and Madeira were in good supply as well as fine liqueurs imported from France and of course porter and ale from the United Kingdom.