Sunday, December 20, 2009

Advent Calendar of Memories - Religious Services

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. During the years I was Sunday School Superintendent, the Advent Wreath was my responsibility. I would talk about the different candles and I would teach the congregation an Advent Candle song.

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 on a Sunday close to Christmas. 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. 

If Christmas Day fell on a Sunday, our family would open our gifts from Santa before going to church. The Christmas gifts would be opened in the afternoon after we had lunch. 

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!

© 2009 Janet Iles

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