December 2002
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A Good Ol' Newfoundland Christmas
By Lola Sutton, St. Albans, NL

Newfoundlanders have always been known worldwide for their good humour and hospitable nature. And Christmas is no exception. A Newfoundland Christmas is full of such traditions as: Mummering, Dances, baking cookies and cakes, getting together with family and friends, drinking Purity Syrup, having Christmas dinner and many more fun activities.

In rural Newfoundland these such traditions have been in affect for many years. The season of Christmas is often associated with falling snow and Santa coming on his sleigh. However there is a saying that goes “if there is no snow and it’s a green Christmas than Santa will deliver his gifts on a trike”. To the outport communities like the one I live in Christmas is not just about receiving gifts, it’s about spending time with your friends and family, it’s the spirit of giving, the only time you can ever get Purity Syrup.

In my community, it is much like any other rural area in Newfoundland. With winter comes such activities as skating on a newly frozen pond, snowmobiling through the woods, the thrill of sliding down the local favourite hill through the newly fallen snow.

The Christmas season begins with the baking of cakes and cookies. Families join together young and old baking everything from shortbreads to fruit cakes. This usually takes a few days to complete but in the end it was all worth it. When you see the company on a cold crisp winter night eating your cookies.

One old tradition that is still very much alive today is called “Mummering”. This is when young and old dress up and go visit peoples houses. The trick is that you have to guess who they are. It usually consists of dancing, a mug up or small meal and a drink. There is a well known song called “The Mummers” song which is sung by Simani that describes this exact tradition.

With the approach of Christmas our community has always had a Christmas Parade, where people enter floats and the last float has always been Santa and his Sleigh. The Parade goes to the Legion where Santa passes out candy bags to the kids. This has been going on for years and is still in affect today. I remember as a child I would watch at the end of our driveway as the floats passed by, cheers of joy would be shouted out as Santa passed by then we would run up to the Legion and wait in a line for our turn to sit on Santas lap and receive our bag of candy from him. Even now I still get a little excited as the Parade goes by.

The twelve days of Christmas start on Christmas day and go up to January 6th which we Newfound landers call “Old Christmas Day”. This time is usually spent visiting family and friends and enjoying a good wholesome time.

In my family my dad and I since as long as I can remember have always taken one day during Christmas and spent it visiting our family. We usually go to each family members house and have some Purity Syrup along with come cookies.

Christmas for us has always situated around some good old accordion and guitar music. It is the highlight of the Christmas season to be sitting back with snow falling outside drinking some Purity Syrup which, in case you were wondering, is a syrup that you mix with water to make it taste like, well, there are many different flavours, and enjoying some good homemade cookies.

For Newfoundlanders Christmas is one of the best times of the year. It is a time of sharing what little we have with those we love and giving as much as we can to those who are less fortunate. It is just too bad that this season doesn’t happen all year long.

Comments on Article:

John Crant, Cardenden, Fife, UK


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