Recollections of Christmas
This page is from a heritage partnered project. It was written in 1998 by students from Mount Pearl Junior High and edited by their teachers. It has not been vetted by the heritage website's academic editor.
Festivals have played an important role in Newfoundland and Labrador's social history. Many events take place throughout the year in our province such as the St. John's Regatta, Guy Fawkes Day, the Mount Pearl Frosty Festival, the Cabot Celebrations for 1997, and many others. These celebrations make a change in an ordinary day for the people of Newfoundlandand Labrador.
The following is a excerpt from an interview done with Mr. Edgar Mudge, formerly of Norris Point, now living in Mount Pearl.
"Christmas was tremendous! You got out of school. That was great. I can close my eyes now and I can picture so vividly the last day of school. And the expectations, and looking across the harbour, because the school was on a hill and there was a little harbour and we would have to go up around the community. We lived on the other side. And see the white snow coming down to the water and the water would be so calm and everything would be so clean and peaceful. And the last day there would always be a Christmas tree in the school and you'd get gifts and so on and back and forth. Then you went home. And boom, what am I going to do? There was nothing to do right now. Then you were gearing up then. That was usually a couple of days before Christmas. Then you had to go get the tree and get that in and thaw it out and put up. That was always such an exciting time. Usually, when they could afford it, most families would have lots of apples. Apples would come in by the barrel from Nova Scotia, of course. Barrels of apples, or boxes, but especially the barrel--a wooden barrel about this high, a huge big barrel full of apples. And you'd go down in the basement and what a beautiful aroma of apples. Of course, when they'd come in, the first thing you would have to do--you'd get your barrel of apples, bring them home, open them up, pick them over because if there were any rotten apples in it you'd have to get them out. They'd spoil the rest. Of course we had apples coming out of our ears for the first couple of weeks. And some of them would be huge. I don't know what they were, probably McIntosh or Northern Spies--but they were huge apples. Delicious. And those who couldn't afford a barrel of apples would buy a box of apples and most people did."
"Most families would raise a pig. That would be killed just before Christmas so most people had all kinds of fresh pork. You would kill a sheep. So there would be lots, and lots of food at Christmas time. And usually the men would brew beer so there would be lots of beer. There would be lots of parties for the adults. Of course when we got to be teenagers we would have our own Christmas parties too."
"And gifts. That was a great time for gift-giving and as kids we received--we were fairly fortunate. Some kids, some families, couldn't give too much to their kids. Some gave lots of good things. We were kind of mediocre like most were. And you got things like toys and what have you. You always got your stocking. And the stocking was filled with your regulars, you know, there would be candies and bars and nuts and things like that. You'd always take your stocking and run upstairs and crawl back into bed because it was always freezing anyway. And of course by the time breakfast or whatever was ready you didn't want any. You were stuffed with all the things you got out of your stocking."
"Quite often there would be church services with children involved. The little angel's pageants and candles and somebody's hair catching on fire and all that goes with that kind of thing."
"Christmas was a great time. And then of course, after Christmas Day, we always went mummering. We used to call it jannying. Go jannying. That was a lot of fun. That was Christmas."
During an interview with Mr. William Taylor of Millertown, he told the following tale.
"AND Company owned a barn which housed 300 horses. It was said that on old Christmas Eve, January 5th, at midnight all the animals were praying. The children of the community were told that if they went to the barn at midnight on this day you would find all the horses kneeling down and making a very eerie sound. None of the children ever went down to the barn to check."
The following is an excerpt from the interview with Mrs. Glenda Knight
"Christmas was not like it is now. We got one gift and that was it. We'd go to bed and the tree was not up until we were asleep. My mom and dad would do the tree. You didn't see any signs of Christmas on Christmas Eve but when you woke up in the morning it was done, the presents were there and the turkey was in the oven. It seemed like it was magic because it happened over night My grandmother and grandfather were helping the poor as clergy. One of the things at Christmastime that always stayed with me and I always remember Christmas Eve we always went out and helped Nanny fill up food hampers. Christmas Eve around 12 o'clock you would see probably 50 to 100 people line up, poor people who had nothing. Myself and my brother would go out and helped my Nan fill them up. If we had any toys around we would try to find out how many were in the family. Each of them would get a turkey, potatoes, carrot and turnip, a tin of green peas, some Christmas cookies and some toys for the children. That will always stay with me. I can see the line up now, poor people who just couldn't afford it. In those days the people really couldn't afford it and we used to get great delight out of helping them."