Angela Meady -

A Slovak-Danish-Finnish Canadian Christmas


After the excitement of the gifts we would get dressed again in some of the new clothes we had just received as gifts, and get ready for church. We'd walk the two blocks, with others joining us all along the way following the sound of the bells which were muffled by the falling snow.

We'd enter a dark church where the only sound was people stamping the snow from their boots  in the vestibule, and the older ladies praying the rosary in Slovak.

The church would fill quickly until it was overspilling and then over in the corner where spruce boughs towered up to the ceiling and the Christmas crèche was set up, blue lights would suddenly switch on illuminating the scene. Then the first strains of Ticho Noc would float down from the choir loft and to me as a child, this moment always felt like God was  just then entering His house. The Mass would be especially beautiful on Christmas Eve, even though the special Christmas procession was only at Midnight Mass. Since there always seemed to be little ones in our household who couldn't stay up that late , I didn't see Midnight Mass until I was much older. I would try to follow along with the Slovak prayers which were sung, and try to follow the slightly altered rhythm of when to stand and when to kneel and when to sit. The heat of all those people and the overpowering clouds of incense burnt for the benediction sometimes did me in and one Christmas Eve my I passed out, my head hitting the wooden pew, clunk! From then on if I felt faint I would make my way to the back door where I would sit on the snowy steps for a couple of minutes and listen to the latecomers singing half a beat off from the others (they always seemed to have already done quite a bit of celebrating). 

Outdoor speakers blasted the quiet of the East End with the refrains of the choir singing Joy to the World as we left the church and on the sidewalk masses of people shook hands and greeted  each other warmly. We could still hear the singing at our front door as we returned home.

On Christmas morning there would be stockings to check which were filled with little gifts like hair barrettes and perfume.  I think that my parents wanted us to have something to open on Christmas morning like other children. It would be time for us girls to be singing at the children's Mass at 9:00 a.m.and my brothers to be in their robes and acting as altar boys.

And then it was visiting time. Pick another outfit from the new things you received and select one toy to take to play with the cousins was the rule. Once the red velvet dress I picked to wear was still on the clothesline and when we took it in we saw that it had frozen solid. I stubbornly wore it anyway, only to spend the day slowly being dyed red as the wet cloth warmed up.

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 Story and Photos © 1998 by Angela Meady - ameady@loon.norlink.net
All comments should be forwarded to Ondro Mihal at omihal@slovak.com.

All contents copyright © 1998.All rights reserved.
Revised: Dec 21, 1998