I’m sending my best wishes to you for a happy holiday season. Since it is the festive season, to acknowledge its importance, I am coming back to my blog. As I have said before, life fills up, and there never seems enough time for everything. However, after a long time of not finding the time in life to write, I am hoping this effort takes me back to my continued passion for our shared past and the process of writing. For this blog, I am starting with our public history, and the following is an excerpt from Sharing the Good Times: A History of Prairie Women’s Joys and Pleasure, a book intended to balance our views about our pioneer women. Yes, they endured seemingly endless hard work, but also, they knew how to celebrate the occasions that were so very special to them. I am publishing some of the section throughout the holiday season. Have a look and come back next week for more on the holidays.
In the past, the calendar was filled with festive days for ordinary people, too. The special holidays mean good times for the entire family. The fall harvest was celebrated at fall fairs and Thanksgiving, but even more important festive occasions were all the other traditional, religious holidays.
The holidays, their dates and the traditional activities associated with them varied with the homeland and cultural background of families. The exact dates for Christmas festivities varied for Eastern Orthodox and other Christians; but for most of the population, there were Christmas and Easter celebrations. Jews observed Passover, Hanukkah and other dates of religious significance. The Chinese celebrated New Years on a different day than most other western Canadians.
Special church services, gatherings and sometimes concerts were part of the religious and observances, but the good food and special, traditional dishes were highlights of the day. And food was in the realm of women’s work and women’s culture. Cooking for such occasions was a great deal of work, but to many, the role was a form of participation in the religious and family life that was treasured. Even the baking of bread became more than part of physical well-being. For important religious observations, bread–whether leavened or unleavened, a plain loaf or a braided one–was essential as a symbol.
And symbols are important to all of us at this very special time of year.
From: Sharing the Good Times: A History of Prairie Women’s Joys and Pleasures (To purchase or for further information, see my updated website: www.wordsandhistory.ca or go to Amazon.ca and search for me or the book title)