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Maison Dion
par Guylaine Hudon le 2023-01-02

Happy new year big nose,

you equally big tooth

The New Year's Blessing. Illustration by Massicotte, Edmond-Joseph,

Collection of the MNBAQ.

When the newspaper comes out, it will be three days before Christmas. Many are nostalgic for that of their childhood. The year of our first Christmas in L'Islet, we remember ringing the bells when we entered the room of our two and a half year old daughter. Santa! She says. He must have just passed… So the three of us surveyed the sky through the skylight. She exclaimed: Too many clouds! Following him, we went down the stairs to see the gifts at the foot of the tree. It must be said that in Quebec and Montreal where we grew up, the magic of the Holiday Season was orchestrated by the character of the good Santa Claus. All this staged by department stores to boost the sale of gifts. We discovered catalogs in the attic, proof that far from the cities, the post office could replace Santa's sleigh. (To see both sides of the mirror, read the Maison Dion column in Le Hublot of December 2021)

François: Before the 20th century  turned it into a trade fair, Christmas was a religious holiday. The celebration began in the church with the mass or rather the 3 masses: a solemn high mass at midnight, followed by two low masses.

Andrée: and it was on New Year's Day that my mother, the youngest, received her New Year's gifts, usually a piece of clothing or a useful accessory; but also long-awaited, an orange and sweets. Delighted, the children would go, in the warmth of the kitchen stairs, to taste the dragees, candy canes and honeymoons. The precious orange had traveled a lot: it was Aunt Lucie, their father's sister, who sent a case of it from California. Hadn't her husband given her an orange grove as a wedding gift?

François: New Year's Day was the occasion for large gatherings with the extended family around a feast. We took the opportunity to exchange gifts but especially news and wishes.

Andrée: The most moving moment I remember in our ancestral home is that of the paternal blessing. My moved grandfather was reviewing the year, the good times and the hardships. Wishing the best to the whole family, remembering those who had left us but always present by their deeds and gestures or by the objects and traditions they had bequeathed to us.

François: I remember, after the death of my grandfather, how my grandmother continued the tradition of blessing the family before the New Year's feast. Her model had been her mother, a businesswoman who had run a grocery store for many years in Quebec. It was she, my father told us, who imported oranges from Florida: a precious treasure that the string of children (a dozen) received once a year.

After the New Year's wishes, we both remember it, as the song said: It's in the time of New Year's Day, we shake hands, we kiss each other... we forgot grudges and quibbles. May the whole planet vibrate to these harmonies, that is what we all wish. It is in this spirit that we let the Ukrainian flag fly in the gazebo and, like last year, we invite you to come and take a musical break. We will broadcast Christmas and winter tunes and songs. Welcome everyone!

We have dreamed since the pandemic of carrying out a host of new cultural activities that we will present to you as the year unfolds. For more information: 418-247-5104 or

Andrée Pelletier and Francois Faguy

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