Celebrating Christmas

Judging from the fact of Louisa's all too brief account of the day and from the fact of Charlotte's absence from the family not only for the day but for the night as well, one may wonder if Christmas has the importance in Louisa's world that it would come to have later in the 19th and 20th centuries.

According to The New Columbia Encyclopedia,

"In England after the Reformation the observance [of Christmas] became a crux between Anglicans and other Protestants, and the celebration of Christmas was suppressed in Scotland and in much of New England until the 19th cent." (under "Christmas.")
It may be that the observance of Christmas in 19th century Nova Scotia was more in the tradition of New England and Scotland than in that of England. If so, perhaps the observations of Catherine Parr Traillare as applicable to Nova Scotia in 1815 as they were to Upper Canada in 1832:
"When I first came to Canada, I was much surprised at the cold indifference which most people showed in their observance of Christmas Day. . . . For in those days there was no dressing of the houses or churches with evergreens as is now so generally the custom [she is writing in 1854]. . . . There be many--who with a scoffing eye look upon the decoration of our hearths and altars on that day, and loudly condemn it as a rag of Romanism.

"I remember the first Christmas day I passed in Canada--being laughed at because I wandered out to the plains near Peterboro', and brought in a wreath of the boxleaved trailing wintergreen (which with its scarlet berries reminded me of the varnished holly with which we were wont to garnish the old house at home), and hanging it over the mantle piece, and above the pictures of my host's parlor, in honor of the day. . . .

"But while the nativity of our Lord was little regarded, all its honor and glory was conferred on the New Year's day. This is with the Canadians the day of days."

—The Canadian Settler's Guide, 1855, pp. 227-28

Traill's remark about New Year's seems to have an echo in Louisa's entry for the eve of that day--if one may judge by the activity at Colin Grove on that occasion (see D31).