Friday, April 18, 2014
Joyeux Noël! Christmas is the most joyous of the Franco-American religious holidays. Celebrations include singing beloved French carols, story telling, attending Christmas Mass and family gatherings.
Singing the beautiful Minuit Chrétien brings tears to the eyes of devout Franco-Americans, because the French lyrics to O Holy Night validate the religious meaning of Christmas.
Many Franco-Americans recall Christmas past, before the extraordinary merchandising holiday we’re consumed by today. My husband recalls growing up in
Franco-American les traditions de Noël come together in
A customary Santon (a symbolic worshipper) is tipping his hat to the manger, where the Christ child will fill the scene on Christmas Eve. The sanctuary’s alters are adorned with seasonal Christmas greenery. At Christmas Eve’s Midnight Mass, the nativity scene will be complete when the statue de l’enfant Jesus is placed in the manger. In fact,
Franco-Americans in the
A virtual video tour of
Among the children’s Christmas stories my husband recalls when growing up was listening to his mother, Rose, reading a French adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s story, “The Little Match Girl”, first published in 1845. In French, the title is “La Petit Marchande d’Allumettes”.
In the old French story, it’s the Virgin Mary who takes La Petit Marchande d’Allumettes to see her grandmother in heaven.
A black and white silent French film of the original story is posted on line. In fact, the old French film receives a respectable 7.1 consumer rating. It was produced in 1928, by Jean Renoir and Jean Tedesco. The 31 minute film is posted at: https://archive.org/details/theLittleMatchGirllaPetiteMarchandeDallumettes1928
Today, most Franco-Americans continue to celebrate Christmas religious traditions.
Noël festivities typically conclude with family gatherings at the homes of Memeres and Peperes (grandparents).
Overwhelmingly, traditional French chants de Noël are the most haunting of the nostalgic memories for Franco-Americans. Familiar hymns and performances of them are available on line. A list of songs, with French and English lyrics included, are available at this site: http://french.about.com/od/christmascarols/
Joyeux Noël, bonnes fêtes et bonne année!Tweet
Juliana L’Heureux is a freelance writer whose articles about Maine’s Franco-American history and culture have appeared in Portland newspapers for 25 years. She serves on the Maine Franco-American Leadership Council.
Juliana and her husband Richard live in Topsham ME. Feel free to contact her at Juliana@mainewriter.com.