1. Canada exports Christmas trees to at least 27 countries, including Jamaica, Honduras, the U.S. and Germany. According to the Canandian Christmas Tree Growers Association, 5.5 million trees are harvested annually; almost half of which are destined for other countries.
2. The Salvation Army began their work in Canada in 1882. Why do they collect donations in a Christmas kettle? From their web site: In 1891, Captain Joseph McFee wanted to help the help the [sic] vulnerable in San Francisco, especially during the Christmas season, but he didn’t know where to get funding to do so. He remembered, during his earlier days in Liverpool, England, seeing a large kettle where passengers of boats that docked nearby were able to toss coins to help the poor. Captain McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing, and encouraged the public to “Keep the Pot Boiling.” He collected enough to host a Christmas dinner for the poor. The first time a kettle was used in Canada was in St. John’s, Newfoundland in 1906.
3. “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” was written by Charles Wesley in 1739 or earlier – only his lyrics were “Hark, how all the welkin rings/”Glory to the King of kings”. The welkin is the dome of the sky (once thought to be made of crystal and studded with the stars) which might ring like a bell if enough voices sang in unison. The beginning lines of the carol were changed 15 years after Wesley published his book of Christmas hymns.
4. Canada’s oldest Christmas song, The Huron Carol, was written by Jean de Brébeuf was a Jesuit missionary at Sainte-Marie; in 1643 he wrote the song in the Huron language to the tune of a traditional French folk song. The English lyrics were written in 1926 and became public domain in 2011.
5. It took candy canes 100 years to earn their stripes: originally the sugar tree ornaments were pure white and unflavoured. They were also straight. The crook was probably added by some candy genius who wanted an easier way to hang the canes on the tree, but the shape has acquired some neat Christmas symbolism since the first candy stick got its curve.
6. Early residents of Spirit River celebrated Christmas with a réveillon. This French tradition is basically a big family dinner and a party that lasts ’til the wee hours. Sounds like a wonderful way to keep Christmas!