Christmas, New Year’s and Remembrance Day all call for special presentations and they can be found here.
These are the stories behind these holidays, all told in an entertaining and thought-provoking manner by Richard Jordan.
Christmas and New Year Traditions
How did our earliest Canadian pioneer families celebrate Christmas? How did the tradition of the Christmas tree come to Canada? What was the significance to our Scottish settlers of their first visitor of the New Year? And where did Santa Claus originally come from anyway? These questions and many others will be answered as we explore the rich history of our Canadian Christmas and New Year Traditions. We actually draw them from many cultures and some of the connections we will make might surprise you!
The picture shows a family in Victorian times celebrating Christmas with that new-fangled invention, the Christmas tree. We’ll explore the pagan roots of many of our Christmas traditions including the Christmas tree and door to door Christmas caroling which originated in a practice called wassailing that actually involved communal drinking!
The Secret History of Santa Claus
St. Nicholas was a real-life Greek bishop who lived on the coast of Turkey in the Second Century AD. How did he develop into the “Jolly Old Elf” who flies around the world on Christmas Eve, in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, delivering gifts to deserving children? We’ll look at Father Christmas, pagan customs that became Christian and the modern commercialization of our folk traditions in this absorbing presentation.
The pictures show (left) the real St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra in Turkey in the Second Century A.D., and (right) the modern image of St. Nick or Santa Claus flying on a sleigh pulled by reindeer. How did this saintly man transform to become the centerpiece of an iconic seasonal celebration that he most likely wouldn’t be able to recognize?
Three Soldiers from Islington and the Origins of Remembrance Day
This is the story three men with strong ties to the village of Islington who went to war. The Rev. R.W.E. Greene fought in the 1866 Fenian invasion and was later immortalized by humourist Stephen Leacock. Col. J.E.L. Streight fought the Boers, witnessed the first German poison gas attack in World War 1 and eventually became a Member of Parliament. Major Stewart B. East was with the 48th Highlanders in Italy and became the most decorated Canadian padre in World War 2. All three men went on to become pillars of the Islington community.
But our story is more than this. It’s also about how Remembrance Day originated when the veterans of the Boer War and World War 1 began to be honoured. We will also talk about the birth of the Royal Canadian Legion.
The photos show (left) Canon R.W.E. Greene, who was the inspiration for Stephen Leacock’s Rev. Drone, (centre) Col. J.E.L. Streight who survived the very first German gas attack at St. Julien, and (right) Rev. Stewart B. East, padre of the 48th Highlanders during their heaviest fighting in Italy. All three men had a great impact on the village of Islington after their service.