December 2002
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Newfoundland and British Christmas Traditions
By Nicole King, St. Catherine's Academy, Mount Carmel, NL

Christmas traditions are often unique whether it be within a family or a country. A wife and mother of five, Joy King remembers back when she was a child and the Christmas traditions that she shared with her family.

Joy explains how her Christmas traditions are a combination between Newfoundland and British. "As a child most of my Christmas traditions followed the old English theme." Instead of putting Christmas gifts under the tree, "on Christmas eve we put pillow slips at the foot of our bed, Santa would fill it with gifts."

The traditional Christmas dinner when Joy was a child consisted of goose with chestnut stuffing and brandy pudding for dessert. She says, "another favourite childhood tradition was the breaking open of Christmas crackers which usually contained a paper hat, a fortune and a surprise." She explains how she has combined Newfoundland and British traditions. "Having married a Newfoundlander, the Newfoundland traditions are more prominent. However, I still have the brandy pudding and the Christmas crackers for the children."

"In today's society Christmas is more commercialized than it was 30 years ago." She also refers to Christmas's past and the regular visit of the mummers. These are a couple of things that have changed over the years. Mrs King explains that Christmas is important to her because it is a time to share traditions, remember Christmases past and share time with family and friends.

Christmas decorations is an important part of her holiday season. "An angel was always placed on the top of our tree, old fashioned glass ornaments, hand made birds, and strung popcorn, as garland, were the decorations of choice. Paper chains and sleigh bells decorate our halls and mistletoe at the entrance."

Mrs King reminisces about her Christmas Eve as a child. "My father always read the stories ‘The Night Before Christmas' and ‘When Mrs Claus Saved Christmas', before he tucked me into bed."

Joy King's British traditions were passed on to her by her mother who was originally from England. Joy was born and raised in Carbonear, but now resides in St. Catherine's, Newfoundland. The traditions that she experienced as a child were very different from those of the typical Newfoundland family. Now a wife and mother herself, Joy has mixed both the Newfoundland and old English to create her own traditional Christmas that she will pass on to her children.


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