Did your family attend religious services during the Christmas season? What were the customs and traditions involved?
Our family attended church every Sunday so it was no different during the Christmas season. Of course, there were some special services.
During the period leading up to Christmas there was Advent. I do not remember lighting Advent candles until after I was a Sunday School Teacher. The church would be decorated with lights and a Christmas tree.
For many years, the most important service was the Carol Service. At first, it was only offered once but the demand was so great it was put on twice. The church organist/choir leader, Victor Kerslake, would work with the choirs for months. The church would be packed (near 900 people I figure). There would be choirs, ensembles and solos. The children's choir that I was part of would be in the side galleries - the boys on the east and the girls on the west. For many years, a wooden platform would be put up to extend the pulpit area. Unfortunately, a minister came who didn't permit this anymore. The intermediate choir (older teens and early 20s would sit on this extended platform.) The service was mostly music with only a few readings.
I am not sure how many years our church did the carol service. It started before I was born. I had planned to check in the church archives this morning when I went but church has been cancelled for today. The minister and church organist are not able to make it. [Our area is not getting as much snow as other districts but still there are cancellations on the radio for many activities.]
If Christmas Day fell on a Sunday, we would open our gifts from Santa before going to church. The Christmas gifts would be opened in the afternoon.
As a teen, on Christmas Eve, I would sometimes go with my brother and his girl friend to her church for the special Christmas Eve service. One year, my sister and I were in a young peoples' group at a neighbouring church and our group looked after the service and the lunch that followed. That year, Santa had arrived before we got home but we did not look at what he brought.
When I was teaching French for the Central Algoma School Board (near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) 1971-2, I lived on St. Joseph's Island and went to Harmony-St. Mark's United, I joined the choir. At Christmas, we put on a Christmas Cantata with a gospel style. That was fun to do!Be sure to check out the other postings at Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories