Sound Heritage: Season’s Greetings From British Columbia’s Past (PDF)



Christmas as Celebrated in British Columbia from the 1880s to the 1930s

NO. 29

Please note: This is a digital file.

All of us have different ways we could complete these sentences. Christmas is a Christian religious festival, a time for meditation and song and for a story of a baby in Bethlehem. Christmas is also a secular holiday celebrated by many Christian and non-Christian people, a time when tables are crowded with dishes of steaming meats and vegetables and plates covered with sugary, spicy baked goods. It is an occasion for gift-giving, of gaily wrapped presents piled in colourful chaos under a lighted Christmas tree, and red and green stockings bulky and bulging with surprises squeezed in from top to toe. It is a time for family and friends, many of whom have driven the busy highways and jostled their way through crowded airports to join in family festivities.

In the past, Christmas was also many things, as illustrated by the stories of British Columbia Christmases you will find within these pages, stories told by the people who lived them, or knew those who had. These stories come from people in all corners of British Columbia, from cowboys in the Cariboo, children in the Kootenays, soldiers from Victoria, working women in Vancouver, farmers in the Okanagan and the Bulkley Valley. Their Christmas celebrations reflect both their environment and the traditions from which they came, and they reveal how, for some of the province’s people, the celebration was an alien custom with no traditional basis at all.

The stories in this Christmas issue of the Sound Heritage Series illustrate that “Christmas Spirit” is really the spirit these people displayed all year long, as they overcame hardships, brought up their families and laughed with the friends they worked and lived with. With few exceptions, these are very “ordinary” people, but, as you get to know them, as I have, you will find that they—like their yuletide memories of the past—become very special, indeed.

Merry Christmas, now and in the future.

—Rich Mole


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