Parisian Christmas tree

© 1995, Musée national des arts et traditions populaires (MNATP), Paris, Franc. All Rights Reserved.

Introduction

This imaginary exhibition introduces the Christmas traditions in Canada and France. Christmas is indeed one of the most celebrated festivities. From every corner of the world, the Nativity feast is marked by various celebrations. Canada and France offer you some of the diversity of Christmas traditions. Three different aspects are presented : social and communal customs , family celebrations and religious ceremonies.

In Canada, from 1875 onwards, Christmas lost its essentially religious character, at least for Anglophones and the upper middle class. Little by little it became a community festival which gave rise to much family merry-making. New customs began to take root. Henceforth, the decorated Christmas tree, the crèche with its santons or plaster figures, gifts and the Christmas "réveillon" became part of family tradition.

Francophones, however, incorporated these new practices into their culture much later. After the First World War, increasing commercial advertising drew Francophones into the dizzy festive activities.

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