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Full text of "Festal days, songs and games of the Franco-Americans of New Hampshire"

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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2008 with funding from 

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http://www.archive.org/details/festaldayssongsgOOwrituoft 



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FESTAL DAYS, SONGS 
AND GAMES 

o/ the 

FRANCO- AMERICANS 

of 
NEW HAMPSHIRE 



Compiled by workers of the Writers' Program 

of the Work Projects Administration 

in the State of New Hampshire 



/^■f 



I 



'J 



GRANITE STATE PRESS 

MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE 



niS KXCKLLKNCV. ia)i:i;iM' (). IW.OOI) 

(jovernor of Xrw Hampshire 

ami tlio 

HONORABLE COUNCIL 

Spoiisor.s of tlio 

New Hanipshiri" Writers' I'roject 

FEDERAL WORKS AGENCY 
JOHN M. CARMODY, Administrator 



WORK PROJECTS ADMINISTRATION 

HOWARD O. HUNTER, Commissioner 

FT,ORENCE KERR, Assistant Commissioner 

JAMES P. QUIXN, State Administrator 



Preface and Acknowledgments 



T 



HE SUBJECT MATTER included in this book 
was compiled by Victoria Langlois and Louis Pare. 
Mrs. Langlois rewrote the material in the form in 
which it appears here. The manuscript was revised 
by Irene Bourdon and was edited by Clare A. Cheetham 
and Gladys Duhaime. The illustrations were made by 
Herbert Waters. 

The workers of the New Hampshire Writers' 
Project are very grateful to the following citizens of 
Manchester, New Hampshire, who read and criticized 
the manuscript: Miss Emma L. Zanzinger, Director 
of the Young Women's Christian Association, Mrs. 
John R. McLane, and Mr. Josaphat Benoit, editor of 
L'Avenh: They also wish to express their apprecia- 
tion to the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, St. 
Edmond's Convent, to the Sisters of the Convent of 
the Holy Angels, and to members of the staff of Asso- 
ciation Canado-Americaine for their co-operation in 
preparing the research for the illustrations. 

ELLA SHANNON BOWLES, 

State Supervisor, 

New Hampshire Writers' Project. 



[3] 



Printed ry Granite State Press, Manchester, N. H. 



FESTAL DAYS, SONGS AND GAMES 

OF THE FRANCO-AMERICANS 

OF 

NEW HAMPSHIRE 




GKANUli-HKKMlNK, PlTUE-HkKM I XK, AND F.M KRIi.LON' 



Tile three ships commanded by Jaciiucs Carticr, landing at 
]'aic-des-Chalenrs in 1534. 



Introduction 



I 



N 1534 the French adventurer, Jacques Cartier, in 
the name of the King of France, took possession of a 
large i)art of the new continent discovered forty-two 
years before by Christopher Cokimbus. He called the 
land New France. 

At first, colonization was very slow. The three early 
expeditions made by the French ended in disaster; 
many of the people who left their homes to settle in 
New France died on the long sea voyages of at least 
three months' duration. 

Finally, in 1608, Samuel de Champlain succeeded in 
making a permanent settlement on the site of Stada- 
cone, an Indian village built on a rocky cape on the 
St. Lawrence River. This was the primitive beginning 
of the present City of Quebec. 

From that time on, colonization was more success- 
ful. Settlers, attracted by stories of fertile lands and 
by tales of golden opportunities in the fur trade, came 
by the hundreds from all parts of France, especially 
from the provinces of Normandie, Picardie, and Anjou. 

These French pioneers brought their traditions, 
their folk stories, and their songs with them. Each 
succeeding generation told and retold them, and, in 
turn, handed them down to its children. 

As years went by, certain descendants of the French 
pioneers crossed the boundary line between the Prov- 
ince of Quebec and the States of Maine, New Hamp- 
shire, and Vermont and settled in the industrial 
sections of New England. 

Today approximately 150,000 Americans of French 
ancestry, including a few who came directly from 
France, are living in New Hampshire. Like their 



[7] 



yrraiidparoiits in Quelur. thoy liaxc prosiM-vod many 
of llu> lra(liti(Mis of tlu>ir pt>opK'. In this l)ook we lia\'o 
tried to outlino and (K'st-rihc l)i-iotl\' the f(\sti\als, 
^anios, and son>j:s whit-h aiv pait of the l)a(l\^i'()Uii(i 
of tin* li\"(>s of llu'so lox'al New i iainpsliirt- riti/ons. 



[8] 



AROUND THE YEAR 



.MONO THE FRENCH CANADIANS and the 
Franco-Americans, a number of days in the year are 
devoted to traditional festivities which have been 
celebrated for many years. Usually these special days 
pay homage to the native land, to the family, or to 
some saint of the Church whose virtues are remem- 
bered and honored by the people of each generation. 
Beginning with the first month of the year, the best- 
known festal days are described here. 



[9] 



New Year's Day 



N 



EW YEAR'S DAY (/e jour de Van) is an im- 
portant occasion among all people of French descent. 
Like their ancestors, the Franco-Americans of New 
Hampshire celebrate it with much gaiety. Christmas 
is a religious feast, but New Year's is the family day, 
when old ties are strengthened and new ones are made. 
In the Province of Quebec it is still the custom for 
relatives and friends to exchange gifts known by the 
special name of New Year's gifts (ctrennes) ; but in 
New Hampshire, as in other sections of the United 
States, the American way of giving Christmas pres- 
ents is generally followed. Occasionally, however, one 
of the children will remember to bring grandmere a 
small New Year's present for I'amour du Bon Vieux 
Temps (old times' sake). 

On New Year's, families assemble under the pater- 
nal roof, and children who do not live at home vie 
with one another to be the first to return to wish their 
parents a happy and prosperous New Year. The 
ancient custom of asking for the father's benediction 
is kept up, and, in homage to paternal authority, each 
son, young and old alike, requests his father to pray 
for God's blessings to descend upon himself and upon 
his own children for the coming year. The observance 
of the rite begins at an early age. As soon as he can 
talk, each child is taught to kneel at his father's feet 
and ask, "Papa, s'il vous plait, donnez-moi voire 
benediction." 

The New Year's dinner is served as soon as all the 
guests have arrived for the celebration. And what a 
feast it is! The center of attraction is the huge 
turkey, filled with a dressing of pork, finely ground 

[11] 



and llavDivd with spit-os. and llank(>d with (.-old meats 
and sausa^vs supploiiuMiti'd 1)\ all kinds of vcgctabli's 
and (.■ondiinrnts. As i^'inroiTcnuMil to tlic main (lisli, 
tluMT ail' a nnmhoi- of thi» rirh pork |)n's iVoin the 
suppl\ of forty oi- fifty, stored in the cool (•cliar. oi' 
out-siu'd. which the honsi'\\il\' has pre\ iousl.\ haked 
foi- L(s Fi'tcs (Iho Holidays). 

These pies are called tomtit res and liaNc a spi'cial 
histoi'X' oi' theii' own. In the earl\- da\ s of "lia Non- 
velle France," llie thick foiests wIumc the fn'st Cana- 
dians hnilt Iheii- ci-nde hnts wore so fnll of toiirtcs 
(small (luail) ixud jx r<l ri.c (partridges) that the house- 
wife could take a few steps into the woods and acquiiv 
all she needed for food. Before the land produced 
enough wheat and otiiei- grains to provide bread at 
every meal, quail was an important part of the family 
fare. With their instinctive sense of line cooking, 
the French women prepared this delicate game bird 
in various ways. The tourtiere — a sort of substantial 
pie tilled with quail cooked slowly in their own juices — 
was the choice for family feast days. 

The forest has disappeared and the quail is almost 
extinct, but the pie — though it is now made with pork, 
finely ground and highly seasoned — still retains its 
old name, tourtiere. 

The New Year's dinner lasts about three hours, and 
ends with a choice of pies of many kinds and with a 
variety of preserves. Then, keeping their seats 
around the table, the guests sing some chansons a 
repondre (songs in which the leader intones each verse 
and the others repeat the line after him). 

A Ici Claire Fontaine (To the Clear Fountain) comes 
from Normandie and is still sung there. Since the 
largest number of French Canadians have Norman 
ancestors, it is quite natural that A la Claire Fontaine 
should be known and loved in all sections of the 
Province of Quebec: 

[ 12] 



A la claire fontaine 

M'en allant promeiier 

J'ai trouve I'eau si belle 

Que je m'y suis baigne; 

II y a longtemps que .je t'aime, 

Jamais je ne t'oublierai. 

To the clear fountain 

On going for a walk, 

I found the water so limpid 

That in it I bathed; 

I have loved thee for a long time 

And I'll never forget thee. 



There are other chansons a repondre which resemble 
the ancient ballads. They tell a story where virtue 
is always rewarded and vice always punished ; the 
airs are simple and sweet, clear and light when the 
words are gay, slow and heavy when the tale is sad. 

No school in Canada is without le chansonnier (the 
songbook) by the Canadian composer, Edmond Massi- 
cotte, who assembled and harmonized these songs for 
four-voice choruses. 

These rhythms are the theme for countless games 
and dancing rounds ; the children use them constantly, 
and when they become adult, still include them in their 
entertainments. 

Here are a few of them: 



[13] 



A SAIXT-MAl.O. I'.KAr TOKT DK MKli 

A Sainl-Malo, 

Hoau port do mer, 

Tix)is beaux navires sont arrives, 

Charges d'avoine, cliai'ges do ble; 

Nous irons sur I'eau 

Nous y prom-pi-omenei' 

Nous ii-ons jouoi- <lans I'ilo 

Dans rile. Dans Tile. 



At Saint -Mala, 

The beautiful harbor, 

Three fine ships have arrived 

Loaded with oats, loaded with wheat. 

We'll go on the ivater 

We'll go, go 

We ivill play on the isle, 

On the isle, on the isle. 



[14] 



EN ROULANT MA BOULE 

Derriere chez nous, y a-t-uii etang, 
En roulant ma boule. 

Deux beaux canards s'en vont flottant, 
En roulant nia boule. 

Rouli, roulant, ma boule roulant, 

En I'oulant ma boule, en roulant 
En roulant ma boule. 

Le fils du roi s'en va chassant 

En roulant ma boule. 
Visa le noir, tua le blanc 

En roulant ma boule. 
**0 Ills du roi, tu es mediant 
D'avoir tue mon canard blanc." 
Rouli, roulant, ma boule roulant. 
En roulant ma boule, en roulant 

En roulant ma boule. 



Behind our house there is a pond, 

A-rolling my ball. 
Tivo beautiful ducks are floating aivay, 

A-rolling my ball, 
A-rolling my ball, a-rolling my ball, 

A-rolling my ball, 
A-rolling. 

The king's son goes a-hunting 

A-rolling my ball. 
Took aim at the black, and killed the ivhite 

A-rolling my ball. 
"0 son of the king — you are wicked, 
To have killed my white duckl" 
A-rolling my ball, a-rolling my ball, 

A-rolling my ball, 
A-rolling. 

[15] 



I.M .1 \i:ni\ \)\-] .MA TAXTI' 

Dans Ic janlin di' ma taiilc 
II >■ a nil i-(>sii'i- (l(»ii\ 

Tout (loiix 
II \ a nil i-(isi('i- (loiix. 



/// nil/ auntie's (/(inloi 
There is a sivecf /osihiish 
Sweet, sweet rosebush 
There is a sweet loscfjush. 



DANS LES PRISONS DE NANTES 

Dans les prisons de Nantes 
Y a-t-un prisonnier 
La lille du geoliei* 
S'en va le visiter. 



In the prisons of Nantes 
There is a prisoner. 

The ivarden's daughter 
Goes to visit hi^n. 



r I'j] 



There is much olcl-rasliiuned dancing of reels and 
jigs to the music of a fiddle. Then, when the singing 
is over, the men smoke their pipes, talk crops, politics, 
or indulge in a spirited game of checkers ; the women, 
having put the house in order, gather in an upstairs 
room to exchange recipes, gossip, fashion notes, and 
the remarkable sayings of their babies. Now and 
then, people go out to call on neighbors, and many 
visitors appear, in their turn, to extend the traditional 
New Year's Greetings: Bonne et heureuse annce, 
sante, honheur, prosperitt', et le paradis a hi fin de vos 
jours! (Happy New Year, health, happiness, prosper- 
ity; and may Heaven be your I'cwai'd in the here- 
after!) 



[ITl 



Epiphany 



T 



111'] MiENCII liavi' an old piox ci-l) wliicli niiis, 
Soil ]H)i(r DiiK, /(' Jour dc I'an pour la faniillc, Ics 
liois pour Ics amis. (Chi'islmas for Cod. New Yeai''s 
Day foi' tlio raniil\'. l\|)i|)lian\' lor iVicMids.) A con- 
tinuous i-ound of \isits and nion-yniakin^' takes j)lace 
in Now Ilanii)shiro as woll as in (Juchcc dui'in^" the 
lirst week in Januaiy. This ^iilix i)ei'io(l ends on .)an- 
uary Gtii with tlie feast of the Epiphany, commemo- 
lating the coming of the Wise Men to render homage 
to the Christ Child. On the evening of this Fetes des 
Rois (Feast of the Wise Men) the young people are 
usually invited to the home of one of the girls, where 
they play games, sing, and dance. 

The party ends with le reveillon (a light midnight 
supper), for which a special cake has been baked. The 
cook has inserted a bean, a pea, a thimble, a penny, 
and a ring in the dough. The girl who finds the bean 
in her piece of cake is proclaimed queen ; the young 
man who finds the pea is king ; the girl who finds the 
thimble will be an old maid; the one who discovers 
the ring will be married during the year; and the one 
who finds the penny will become rich. Needless to say, 
the thimble is the least w^elcomed of all the tokens ! 



[ 18] 



Mardi Gras 



M, 



.ARDI GRAS (Shrove Tuesday) is the day before 
Ash Wednesday- and opens the Lenten season. It is 
also an occasion for joyous celebration in New Hamp- 
shire. It gets its name from two French words, 
mardi, meaning Tuesday, and (/ras, meaning rich, or 
fat. In olden times when meat could not be eaten for 
forty days during the period of penance ordered by the 
Church, people feasted on meats of all kinds on the 
Tuesday before the fasting began. So they called this 
day of rich fare Mardi Gras. 

During Mardi Gras there were various noisy and 
gay festivities, including parades of "horribles," 
dances, and music, which ended with the coronation 
of a queen at midnight. 

Mardi Gras is still a great festival in France, but 
in Quebec it is not celebrated as elaborately. Only 
dances, card parties, and family reunions mark the 
day. In New England cities, balls are sometimes held, 
but the most important Mardi Gras celebration in the 
United States takes place in Louisiana, where descend- 
ants of the French settlers have kept up the colorful 
old custom. On Mardi Gras the city of New Orleans 
is given over entirely to the carnival. People dance in 
the decorated streets, and shower each other with 
confetti; a parade many miles in length attracts visi- 
tors from all the States of the Union. To be crow^ned 
King or Queen of this famous festival is considered a 
great honor. 



[19] 



The Crowning of the Virgin 



T 



111': CKOWNINC (.r the \'ii-Kiii. oil tile last da\ of 
May. is \oi-y iiiipi-ossi\(>. It has not the gaiety of tlio 
Distribution of Pi-j/.os, a cri-ciiioiix' w liicli takes place 
1)11 Iho last ila\ of tlio school y»'ar. when each ^iii's 
name is calltMl. rollowed hy a list of her scholai-l\- 
;icliiovi>nients ; hut it is a cerenion\- full of color and 
grace. 

The corenionx' of tlu^ Ci'ownin^" of the N'if^in is 
cai-efully i)i-ojiarotl ; its smallest pail is relu>ai\se(l so 
often ill the preceding- wcn-ks that each detail is perfect. 

It is held at twilight, and the new season seems to 
lend its I'resh xoung loveliness to the occasion; the 
chapel is softly lighted with candles and the altar is 
covered with gold lace and flowers. 

The girls, Avearing white uniforms and flowing 
white veils, form a long procession led by the pupil 
whose deportment has been judged most near perfec- 
tion and who has been elected by both the teachers 
and the members of the school to carry the crown of 
roses and place it on the Virgin's head. 

There is a special song for the day; every year, it 
is sung for a few hours and is not heard again until 
the next May 31st. The air and the words are simple, 
but the melody is enchanting and unforgettable: 

Prends ma couronne, 
Je te la donne, 
Au ciel, n'est-ce pas, 
Tu me la rendras. 

:|: ::: * 

Take my croivn, 

I give it to thee, 

In heaven, to he sure. 

Please give it hack to me. 

[20] 







The Crowning of the Virgin is a memorable day 
in the convent year. 



Distribution of Prizes 



T 



111". I).\^ (>r till' Dist ril)Ul ion of I'rizcs is a \('i-\- 
inipoitanl ovriil in the (.oiiviMits of (^uobcf and in 
nian\" b'l'onch-AnuMMcan schools in N(>\v llanipsliirc. 
It marks llu> (»t]"K'ial closing' of {\\v school xcar, hoKi'i- 
ninjr tlio long sumnior holiday. 

Although an atniosplioiv of fcstixitN- pervades the 
entire sehool. tlu> actual ceremony of the Disti'ibution 
ol' Prizes is cliai'acterizod by great formality. Usually 
the cure, accompanied by his attendants, presides, but 
sometimes the bishop honors the occasion with his 
presence. The coveted honor of announcing the 
ralmarcs (list of prizes) is allotted to a member of 
the graduating class, who reads the names from long 
sheets of white paper held together with streamers of 
ribbons in colors selected by the graduates and the 
teachers. 

Each girl wears a white muslin dress with a finely 
tucked bodice, a demure, rounded neckline, and a full, 
gathered skirt. Her hair is kept in place with bands 
of white ribbon tied in bows on the left side. When 
the ceremony opens, all the pupils make a deep curtsy 
as their guests enter the room. This curtsy is executed 
with great precision and the timing is as perfect as if 
one or two girls instead of nearly a hundi'ed were 
undertaking it. 

The program opens with a short song of welcome 
followed by an address, read by one of the younger 
girls. Then the pupils seat themselves to listen to 
the words of congratulation and guidance from the 
purple- or black-robed guest of honor. 

At last the great moment comes when each girl, as 
her name is read from the Palmares, stands up to hear 

[22] 



the list of prizes awarded for daily work and high 
marks. Then she goes forward to receive the prize, 
usually a gilt-edged book with bright covers, or a 
bronze or silver medal, from the hands of the cure or 
the bishop. Nearly every girl gets a prize, for they 
are bestowed not only for scholarly achievement, but 
also for politeness, order, devotion, piety, and ability 
at organizing and playing games. 

While parents, relatives, and friends visit with one 
another, the pupils gather in groups to examine and 
compare prizes; but the final and most important 
topics discussed among them are the plans for les 
grandcs vacances (the long vacation) and the ex- 
change of addresses with pi'omises to correspond. 
Finally, with the halls resounding with echoes of au 
revoir (farewell), adieu (good-bye), and departing 
feet, the atmosphere of excitement changes to one of 
calm, peace, and stillness as the door closes on the last 
pupil. 



[ 23 I 



Feasts of the Saints 



W 



HEN THE FRENCH CANADIAN pays hom- 
age to a patron saint, the celebration is never without 
a church service. But after Mass, unlike the quiet 
atmosphere of a Sunday, the holiday spirit manifests 
itself in gay activities, according to the nature of the 
celebration. The festivities may take the form of a 
parade, usually a feature of the day, or there may 
be parties in private homes, which means a feast of 
delicacies which the hostess has probably been prepar- 
ing for three days. The children look forward to these 
feast days, for it means conge (holiday) to them; and 
conge permits the indulgence in friandises (goodies). 



[25 1 




'ILi ''=^1 



Faithkui. to Thkir Tkaditions 

The Franco-Americans honor their ])atr<jn as they (Hd 
in old Quebec 



The Feast of St. John the Baptist 



A 



.MONG THE FRENCH of Quebec and the Franco- 
Americans of New England, June 24 is tlie day chosen 
to pay honor to their patron saint, St. Jean-Baptiste. 
Jn the Province of Quebec the celebration is of national 
importance. Flags wave over the houses and along 
the streets, and the people wear a maple leaf, the sym- 
bol of Canada. With the French tricolor and the 
British Union Jack, the drapcaii de Carillon (banner 
of Carillon), which shows the fleur-de-lis in silver 
or gold on a white background, and which was the 
national banner of France during the twelve hundred 
years of the French monarchy, dominates the display 
of colors. 

hi small villages and parishes, festivities are usually 
delayed until the following Sunday, when a special 
High Mass is sung in honor of the Saint, hi this 
case, it seems that a religious celebration is given a 
national quality. The feast of St. John the Baptist 
begins on the eve of the holiday about midnight with 
a huge bonfire called le feu de la St. Jean (the bonfire 
of St. John) which blazes against the midnight sky. 
During the day there are meetings at national land- 
marks. Speeches are made, and there are long parades 
which end with evening festivities and fireworks. 

The parades are highly picturesque. School children 
and members of various religious and national soci- 
eties march to the spirited music of the bands. There 
are many decorated floats, most important of which 
is le char du St. Jean-Baptiste (St. John the Baptist's 
float) . It comes at the end of the parade and is le clou 
de la fete (the climax of the celebration). All French 
children watch for it eagerly, for it has great signifi- 

[27] 



cam-0 to tlu-ni. A hcautiful little hoy w ith hloiul ciii-ly 
hair, tlrossni in whitr. stands on tlio lloat. 'I'lu' i-liild 
bears in his rinht hand a tall, slender cross, and his 
loTl haml rests on the head of a white lainh l\in^' 
beside him. 'j'his lo\cl>- ^i-oup represents St. J(>an- 
I<aptistc> as a Nonnji' ho.w It is considei'ed a ^reat 
hontir to he chosen to h(> Ic jxtll SI. ./((ui-Udpfisfc 
(littli' St. John), and mothers ai"e prond to haxc their 
little sons seleftc>(l for this li\ in^- s.\ iiihol which means 
so much to llieir peoi)le. 



[28] 



The Feast of Ste. Cecilia 



V-/ECIL1A was a great Roman lady who became a 
Christian during the second century. Married very 
young to a man of iiigh rank, she lived simply, visited 
the poor and the sick, and gave many hours to music. 
Denounced to the authorities because she refused to 
honor the ancient pagan gods, she was put to death. 

Her beauty and her love for music have inspired 
many artists; several famous paintings represent her 
wearing the rich garments reserved for women of her 
rank in ancient Rome, with her fingers touching the 
strings of a harp. She has been chosen as the patron 
of musicians. 

Music is an important part of education in Canada. 
Solfege (singing exercises) is compulsory for all 
pupils. So there is a fine picture of Cecilia in every 
school. 

Her feast, which falls on November 22, is a full 
holiday ; the formal Sunday uniform is worn, regular 
classes are canceled, and an all-musical program is 
given in the assembly hall. Parents of the pupils are 
invited to attend. 



[ 29 ] 



Ste. Catherine's Day 



OTK. CATHERINE, a In-autirul and Icai-ncd maiden 
of Alexandria, Egypt, is tho pati'ou Saint of unmarried 
women. For centuries, French girls who were not 
married by the time they were twenty-live years old 
were designated as wearers of Ste. Catherine's coif 
(head dress), a polite way to say that they wei-e old 
maids. November 25 is Ste. Catherine's Day. in 
French Canada the young people celebrate it by having 
a gay evening party with a molasses candy pull as 
the outstanding feature. In New Hampshire, Ste. 
Catherine's Day is the occasion for parties in girls' 
clubs and in private homes. 

In recent years, Ste. Catherine has become the patron 
and protector of all girls who receive higher education ; 
a normal school in Quebec and a women's college in 
Montreal have been named in her honor. 



[ 30 ] 



The Feast of St. Nicolas 



M, 



.OST REGIONS of France have a legend saying 
that the Child Jesus delegates old Father Noel to dis- 
tribute the Christmas bounty. But in some provinces 
of the northwestern part, as in Lorraine and Flandre, 
St. Nicolas has always been the traditional giver of 
gifts. 

St. Nicolas (or Santa Klaus) was a bishop of Myra, 
in Russia. He was loved by the poor people and the 
little children, to whom he always showed kindness 
and generosity. 

It is understood that the toys and sweets are sent 
by the Child Jesus himself; but since He is so very 
little, it is believed that good old St. Nicolas makes 
the rounds on Christmas Eve and puts the gifts in 
the shoes or stockings hung around the fireplace. 

Though his feast, which falls on December 6th, is 
not formally celebrated, French children have a soft 
spot in their hearts for St. Nicolas. One of the first 
songs they learn in school goes like this : 

St. Nicolas, patron des ecoliers, 
Apportez-moi du sucre 
Plein mes petits souliers. 
J'irai a I'ecole 
J'apprendrai mes lecons 
Et je serai bien sage 
Comme un petit mouton 
Ton-Ton. 

:■: * * :■: 

St. Nicolas, patron of pupils, 

Please fill my little shoes 

With nice, tasty sweets. 

I'll go to school 

I'll learn my lessons 

And I'll be just as good 

As a docile little lamb. 

[31] 



Christinas 



OK .M.\.\^ \ 1:AI:S in (.)ucl)cc. Christmas was 
pui"t'l\' a I'cli^ious (■('l('l)i-at ion loiiiincmoi'al iii)^' tlu> 
bii'th of ("lirisl. At lln> pri'sciil liiiic many of llic people 
ol' Froiu-h anc(>sti-y in both Canada and tli(> United 
States follow the holi(la\- customs in ^'enei-al use, but 
for tlicm Christmas will always ictain its j)rimary 
roliyfious sijxnilu'anctv it bcg"ins on Christmas Eve 
with pealing chuieh bells at midnight. The church 
is bi-ightly lighted and decorated with wreaths and 
garlands of sweet-scented pine branches; the altars 
are covered with gold lace, flowers, and candles; the 
priests wear their most gorgeous vestments, heavily 
embroidered with gold and silver. 

Every pew in the chui'ch is filled for the long 
service, which is a series of three Masses. At first, 
the music of the organ and the chant are deep-sound- 
ing and solemn, according to the ancient Gregorian 
method. Later, the singing becomes more joyous, 
lighter; Cantates de Noel (Christmas Cantatas) are 
intoned by the boy and girl choirs. 

DIVINE ENFANCE 

O divine enfance 
De mon doux Sauveur, 
Aimable innocence, 
Tu ravis mon coeur. 
Que dans Sa faiblesse 
II parait puissant 
Ah ! plus II s'abaisse 
Et plus II est grand! 



[32] 



O divine infancij 

Of my sweet Saviour 

Gracious innocence, 

You ravish my heart! 

In His helplessness 

Hoiv powerful is He 

Ah! the more He humbles himself 

The greater He becomes. 



CA, BERGERS 

Ca, bergers, assemblons-nous 
Allons voir le Messie 
Cherchons cet enfant si doux 
Dans les bras de Marie 

Je I'entends, 
11 nous appelle tons 
sort, digne d'envie ! 



Lo, shepherds, let us gather, 
Let us go to see the Messiah, 
Let us seek this dear child 
In the arms of Mary. 

I hear him; 
He calls to us all — 
O enviable Destiny. 

In olden times to be taken to midnight Mass was a 
reward bestowed upon a young child for good be- 
havior. In New Hampshire, there are very beauti- 
ful and impressive midnight services in the Catholic 
churches. Little children do not attend them now, but 
on Christmas afternoon they visit la Creche de 



[33] 



ri'JnfiUit .Itstts (thr I'l-ailK' of lln' C'liiUl Ji'siis) to oll'or 
liomage aiul io awe thanks tor the ^H'is and toys they 
have receiveil. 

At the eiul of thi' iniihii^iit Mass, pi'oplo moel at 
the homes oi' iclniwvs and pai'take of /( r< luillon, a 
feast consisting" of rold meats, sausage's, loiirl iircs 
( j)oi"k pies), en Ions (a spread made of ground pork 
butts seasoned with }i;arlie and saNory si)ic('s), an 
assortmi'iit oi' pii>s and cakes, tea and coll'ee, and many 
vai'ieties of homemade wines of old \ intake, poui'ed 
from an array of carafes (dcranters) . 

The y:aiety continues until dawn; then tlu> house 
quiets down for a few hours. At eight o'clock a light 
breakfast is served, and the church fills again for the 
otlicial grandmesse (High Mass), in the middle of the 
forenoon, for those who did not attend midnight Mass. 



[34] 



SONGS AND GAMES 



T 



HE GAMES and songs of French-Canadian chil- 
dren are preserved and cherished as an important part 
ol national folklore. Many of them are simple songs 
and roundelays which came from France, especially 
from the provinces of Normandie, Bretagne, and 
Poitou. 

Some of these games are very old. The poet and 
chronicler, Jean Froissart, born in 1338, tells of hav- 
ing played hide-and-go-seek, wolf, prisoner's base, slap- 
hand, spinning a top, and guessing games, all favorites 
of French-American boys and girls of today. 

French children do not have many nursery rhymes 
like Old Mother Hubbard, Little Jack Horner, Jack 
and Jill, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and Old King Cole. 
Their folk rhymes are set to music. That is why they 
have so many singing games of which simple melodies, 
with the right "swing," are a necessary part. 



[35] 



Indoor Games 



MONG THE INDOOR GAMES played by little 
children is Pigeon Vole (The Pigeon Hies). The 
leader, who is seated, places one hand on his knee, with 
one finger extended. Then a child places a finger be- 
side that of the leader who, raising his finger each 
time, calls out the names of different animals. The 
child raises his finger only when the name of a bird 
is called. "Pigeon vole!" says the leader, and up comes 
the little finger with that of the leader. But if it is 
mouton vole (sheep flies) the child must not move, 
because sheep do not fly. If the tot lifts his finger, 
he owes a forfeit and pays it then or at the end of 
the game. After all the children have matched wits 
with their teacher or some other adult, the game ends. 

La toilette de Madame (my lady's wardrobe) is 
played by older children. It is an old French game, 
known and loved by children of all lands. There may 
be from ten to thirty players, or more, each taking 
the name of some article in Madame's toilet, such as 
her gown, cape, cloak, necklace, bracelet, shoes, stock- 
ings, comb, hair-brush, soap, or looking glass. 

The players sit in a circle, except the leader of the 
game, who stands in the center. The leader says: 
''Madame demande sa robe" (my lady wants her 
gown), and the "gown" must rise at once and the 
leader takes the vacated place. The new leader says : 
"Madame demande son peigne" (my lady wants her 
comb), and the one who represents the comb stands 
up as the call is made. If a player does not rise 
immediately, he or she owes a forfeit. Then the 
leader calls: '^Madame demande toute sa toilette" (my 
lady wants her entire outfit). All the players rise 

[37] 



nnd oiwh makos a dash for a vacated chaii'. 'I'li(> 
(>iu> who i-oniaiiis w ithoiit a scat pa\s a forfcMt. The 
|)hi\tM-s may takr the naiiics of other ol)j(H-ts, such as 
thoso oi' the tea tal)le: phite, v\\\). saiuer, ti-eain pitcluM'. 
sujrar howL 

Whoa hoys are in th(> ^roup, th(\v iiia.\- i-epi-es(>iit 
carria^ivs. hoi'sos, oi* foolnien. If "Machinie" \vish(>s to 
he modern, she may have hei- town eai" and chaulfcur, 
hut usually the children |)i-ef(M- the old to the new. 

Roulc {'(t.^sirttc (S|)in the Platter) as pla\(>d hy 
French-Canadian childrcMi is not at all lik(> "M\- i.adx's 
Toilet." Fcom ten to thii't\" childi'cn nia\- join in. All 
sit in a circle, except one. who stands or crouches in 
tile center and spins a i)late or a round tray, at the 
same time calling the name of a playei-. The one 
whose name is called must rush to the center and 
catch the plate before it stops spinning. If successful, 
he takes the place of the previous spinner; if unsuc- 
cessful, he returns to his place and pays a forfeit. 
When Spin the Platter is played by both boys and 
girls, much fun is assured. 



[38] 



Outdoor Games 

X HE GAME of Le Loup or La Queue Leulcu, which 
is more than six centuries old, is the American game 
of Wolf. It is called Queue Leuleu because children 
playing it walk and run in single file, each one holding 
the garment of the one in front of him. They represent 
a flock of sheep, led by a shephei'd who sings these 
lines, which are repeated by the other children : 

Promenons-nous dans les bois, 
Pendant que le loup n'y est pas. 



In the woods we'll ivalk and play 
While the bad wolf i^ away. 

One of the players hides, representing le loup (the 
wolf) . When the sheep have walked around several 
times, singing "Pi^omenons-nou^," they cry out: 
"Loup, y es-tu?" (Wolf, are you there?). The wolf 
gives no answer, and the promenade is resumed and 
continues until the wolf decides to show up. When 
the denouement approaches, the game becomes very 
lively as the wolf answers "Om" (Yes), and bounds 
out of his hiding place. Then the sheep run, seeking 
safety in every direction, and the shepherd, who can- 
not be caught, tries to keep himself in the way of the 
wolf to protect his flock. 

When le loup has caught one of the sheep, his "pris- 
oner" takes the place of the wolf, or it may be agreed 
that the wolf must catch all the sheep, the last one 
caught to become the wolf. 

Colin-maillard (blindman's buff") is very old. It is 

[30] 



playcil l)y a ^roiip of ihildrcn in a fooni oi- in (li^ 
open air. A l)liiul-l'i»M('(l |)l;iy('r. know ii as colln iiniil- 
liird (tho l)liiul man), c-liasos llu' otluMs 1)>- Icclin^- his 
way about. Tho ohilil lio oatiho.s i.s Ihon hlind-rohlod 
ami tho ^anK' ^oos nKM'i'ily on. Tho phiyiTs sin^i', 
jump, and daiu'o ai-ound tho hlind-roldcd captivo. They 
touch him and boat a liasty I'otroat to avoid bcMU^- 
oau^ht. ir colin-^Kiilldnl ai^pi'oaolios a wall, a ti"0(^ oi- 
otluM" obj(\'ts against which ho is lial)l(' to bnmp and 
receive injuries, the i)layoi-s cry out wainin^s liko 
"(jare an pot noir" (beware of the black pot) or 
"cassc-coii" (broak-nock) . 



[40] 



OLD SONGS 

X INY CHILDREN of French ancestry learn very 
old rhymes as soon as they are able to talk, for they 
use them in their play at home and in the first classes 
at school. 

The children are fond of these gay simple airs, in- 
herited from their forefathers in France, oh tout finit 
pa?' line chanson (where everything ends with a song.) 



[41] 



Old Songs 



A 



/ (LMi: ni: la U M: dn llu- iMoonliKhO is a 
very i)rolty soii^- Ixoii^lit rioin I-'iaiu-o to (iuoboc. 'Pho 
music is l)y LuUi, one of tlic ^icatcsl nuisicians of his 
time. Latoi". he wrote tlu- music foi- drdud Dicu 
.saurc Ic I\oi ((loil Save llic Kin^), wliitii Ix'canic the 
national anthem of Enjiiand. "In the Moonhght" tells 
o( Pierrot, a traditional clown who wears a loose white 
costume with long flowing sleeves. This song was 
composed during the last i)ait ol' the seventeenth 
centurv. 



Au clair de la lune 
Men ami Pierrot, 
Prete-moi ta plume 
Pour ecrire un mot. 
Ma chandelle est morte 
Je n'ai plus de feu 
Ouvre-moi ta porte 
Pour I'amour de Dieu. 

Au clair de la lune 
Pierrot repondit, 
Je n'ai pas de plume 
Je suis dans men lit. 
Va chez la voisine 
Je crois qu'elle y est 
Car dans sa cuisine 
On bat le briquet. 



[42] 



It has been translated into English in a number of 
ways. One version is : 

At the door I'm knocking, 
By the moon's pale light. 
Lend a pen, I pray thee, 
I've a ivord to ivrite. 
Guttered is my candle, 
Burns my fire no more. 
For the love of Heaven, 
Open now the door. 

Pierrot cried in answer, 
By the moon's pale light. 
In my bed I'm lying. 
Late and chill the night. 
Yonder at my neighbor's, 
Some one is astir, 
Fire is freshly kindled. 
Get a light from her. 

II etait un' bergere (There Was a Shepherdess) is 
a roundelay, a singing game, and a folk song : 

11 etait un' bergere 

Ron, ron, ron, 

Petit patapon. 
11 etait un' bergere 
Qui gardait ses moutons 

Ron, ron, ron, 
Qui gardait ses moutons. 

* * :i: 

There ivas a little shepherdess. 

Round, round, round, 

Little patapon. 
There icas a little shepherdess 
Who ivatched over her lambs, 

RouTul, round, round, 
Who ivatched over her lambs. 

[43] 



As llio stDi-y ^oos. owe nutniin^- tlu> pretty shophcrd- 
c'ss makes cheese with the I'lcsh milk of her sheej), w hiK- 
the cat views the operatit)!! with huny,ry UH)k. "If you 
put youi* paw in my clieivse," the maiden admonishes, 
"I'll take tlu' stiek to you." Ihil /< clitihnt (the pussy 
cat) tU)es not attack the cheesi> with his paw ; \\v ^'oes 
throuji'li it with his chin, and the maich'ii. in an^HM'. 
kills the cat. 'llwn slu> ^'ocvs to her rather to l)e^' I'or- 
j»ivem>ss; "Moii pi re, jc i)racci(s<' li'uroir Ihc nioii. 
chut on." (Papa. 1 confess 1 have slain my i)ussy cat). 
I'apa answei's : "Pour ta pniitoicc, nous tions cDihrits- 
seron^" (For xour p^Miance. we'll kiss c>ach othei'). 
The maiden linds the sentence not only light init sweet, 
and says: "Noioi rcconimcnccrons" (We'll do it over 
again). 

In another version, when a singing game is ]ihiyed, 
papa is not quite so lenient. He says: "Pour (a peni- 
tence, fi( niangeras chaton" (P\)r your penance, you 
shall eat the pussy cat). At these words, the cat, who 
must have lost only one of his nine lives, tries to es- 
cape and is chased by the maiden. When the cat is 
caught the game ends. 

La Poulette Grise (The Gray Chick) has been 
handed down from one generation to another. The 
father sings La Poulette to the children and they laugh 
merrily, and the mother uses it to soothe her fretting 
little ones. She varies the tune somewhat and invents 
words of her own, but the theme word is always la 
poulette w^hose color changes in every verse, being 
alternately gray, w^hite, black, blue, yellowy and green : 

C'est la poulette grise 
Qui a pondu dans la remise 
Elle a pondu un p'tit coco 
Pour bebe qui va faire dodo, 
Lenlire, lenlo. 



[44] 



-^' 




The Shf.phf.rdess, the Cat, and the Cheese 



// /n ///( /////(• (/rdi/ Inn 
Which hus In id (i little <(/(/. 

.1 piittii little vtji) 
For hdhji irho trill (/<> to slrrp. 



For tlu' \Tr\' small l)al)\', tlu'i-c arc scxci-al little 
l^iocos. \cr\- old i)iit still u>^r{\ and liki>(l. 

W'liti'o do son. cstoiiiat- do j)loiiil), goi'go do i)ig('()n, 
Monloii foinvhu. boucho d'ary:ont, iioz caiKaii, 
Ji)Uo I'olio. jouo bouillio, p'tit ooil, gros ooii, 
Sou re il Ion, soui'cillette 
Cogne, cogiie, cogne la caboche. 
* * * 

Belly of bran, stuitiach of lead, i)igeon's throat, 

Indented chin, silver mouth, tilted nose, 

RoaMed cheek, boiled cheek, 

Small eye, big eye, 

Eyebroiv, little eyebroiv. 

Knock, knock, knock, the little head. 

In playing this game, one touches gently the part 
of the baby's body mentioned by name ; a pretty way 
indeed to teach the meaning of the words, "eyes," 
"mouth," "nose," etc. 



Another rhyme concerns a gold and silver knife 

P'tit couteau d'or et d'argent 

Ta mere t'appelle au bout du champ 

Pour manger du lait caille; 

La souris a barbote dedans 

Une heure de temps 

Adieu, va-t'en. 

[46] 



Little knife of (jold and silver, 

Your mother calls you yonder in the jield 

To drink some curdled milk, 

But the mouse has dabbled in it 

For one whole hour. Good-bye! Go away! 



And this one, liglit and merry, which tells about the 
simple life of Pierrot: 

Dans sa cabane 

Que Pierrot est content 

Avec sa femme 

Et ses petits enfants. 

Quand vient I'heure du diner 

Sa femme s'en va I'appeler: 

Oh! Pierrot! Oh! Pierrot! 

Viens t'en done diner 

Les patates sont cuites! 



In his cabin, how happy is Pierrot 

With his ivife and his little children. 

When dinner time comes 

His wife calls him: 

Oh! Pierrot! Oh! Pierrot! Come to dinner. 

The potatoes are cooked! 



To start jouer a la cachette (a game of hide-and-go- 
seek) the children count: line pomme, deux pommes, 
trois pommes, quatre pommes, cinq pommes, six 
pommes, sept pommes, huit pommes, neiif pommes, 
dehors! (One apple, two, three, four, five, six, seven, 
eight, nine apples — you're out!) The child left with 
the number nine has to be It. 



[47] 



Tlu' rliNMU' which lolldws is hascd on the iiunih(M\s, 
1)110 lit twelve: 

Un, ilciix. ti'dis, 

Nous irons aiix hois, 

CJuatro, i-iiKi. six, 

I'our iiu'ilhr (U's corisos, 

Sept. liuit, lU'ur, 

Dans moil paiiior lu'iil', 

Dix, on/r. (lou/o, 

I^hcs soroiit toiitcs roiig'cs. 



One, two, three, 
We'll go to the ivoodt;. 
Four, five, six, 
To gather some cherries. 
Seven, eight, nine. 
In my new basket. 
Ten, eleven, tivelve. 
They all ivill he red. 



This old lullaby, L'Oiseau Bleu (The Bluebird), is 
still popular among the French in America : 

II est tard, I'ange a passe 
Deja le jour est baisse, 
Et Ton entend pour tout bruit 
Que le ruisseau qui s'enfuit. 

Endors-toi, mon lils, c'est moi, 
Endors-toi, mon fils, c'est moi, 
II est tard, et ton ami 
L'oiseau bleu, s'est endormi. 

[48] 



Dors, la fee arrivera, 
Puis elle t'apportera, 
Pendant que tu doi-mii-as 
Tous les fruits que tu voudras. 

Je vois se fermer tes yeux, 
Tes yeux bleus commes les cieux, 
Tu vas dormir, n'est-ce pas? 
II s'endort, chantons bien has. 



It is late, the anyel has flown by, 

Daylight is already dim, 

And no sound is heard 

But the murmur of the brook. 

Go to sleep, my son. Mother is here. 
Go to sleep, my son, Mother is here; 
It is lute, and your friend, 
The bluebird, is asleep. 

Sleep, the fairy will come, 

And will bring you 

While you sleep 

All the fruits you may want. 

I see your eyes closing 
Your eyes, blue as the sky, 
You will sleep well, won't you? 
He is sleeping; let u^ sing softly. 



[49] 






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