Feasting and celebrating in New France
Finally, some rest! Today is a holiday, and we are celebrating the May celebration. Here in New France, there are 85 days in the year when work is forbidden by the Church, 52 Sundays and 33 mandatory holidays. But that doesn’t mean we always celebrate on holidays.
Sometimes it’s hard to celebrate because the fur trade keeps the men away from home. It’s also hard to get together because some homes are so far apart. But still we enjoy spending our evenings by the fire, singing and telling stories.
Video narration available in French at http://primaire.recitus.qc.ca/sujets/7/langue-culture-et-religion/161
Some people play games like checkers or dominoes. The younger people like to dance to violins, but finding a musician isn’t easy because they aren’t many in the colony. We also have parties at weddings and baptisms. The most important holidays are religious holidays like Easter and Christmas.
But as I mentioned, today we are celebrating the planting of the Maypole. First we remove all the lower bark and branches from a conifer and then we plant it in front of the seigneur’s manor. As is tradition, we must first ask the seigneur for permission to plant the tree. Then the seigneur is invited to “darken” the Maypole. He steps out onto his doorstep with his gun and shoots at the tree. Then all the habitants who are old enough to have a gun will shoot at the maypole. The more shots we fire, the darker the pole becomes, and the greater the honour for the seigneur.
Then we will all eat, drink and sing songs.
Author: Léon Robichaud
See also – Traces of the past:
Links: Seigneurs and censitaires / New France around 1745