Newfoundland & Labrador is without a doubt one of the most unique and remarkable places in Canada. During the holidays, that’s especially true! Below is a small sample of the many special traditions celebrated during the festive season in Newfoundland & Labrador. Read on and enjoy!
The best-known Newfoundland Christmas tradition is mummering – there’s even a local song about it! Mummering happens from St. Stephen’s Day (December 26) through the 12 days of the Christmas season. Mummers (also called jannies) disguise themselves with masks, humps, costumes and fake voices (men often dress as women and vice versa) and go from house to house in their community, singing songs and dancing when invited in. Those living in the house try to guess the mummers’ identities, after which food and drinks are shared before the mummers move on to the next house. Mummering, brought to the island by the English and Irish, has been practiced in Newfoundland since the early 1800s!
- Tibb’s Eve
When does Christmas begin? Well, that depends! On the south coast of the island, the season’s first “official” day is Tibb’s Eve, a name assigned to December 23rd. Sometimes known as Tipsy Eve, it is often interpreted to mean the day one can “officially” get “tipsy” – i.e. the day people start drinking Christmas cheer.
- Syrup for Santa
While children across the rest of North America put out milk and cookies for Santa Claus, most children in Newfoundland put out syrup and cookies for the jolly man. What’s syrup you ask? Made by Purity® (another amazing Newfoundland & Labrador brand!), syrup is a sweet, concentrated fruit drink that dates back to 1924. Just add water and serve! It’s a staple during the holidays, especially in strawberry and raspberry flavours.
- Nalujuit Night
In northern Labrador, Epiphany Night (January 6) is also known as Nalajuit Night. Teenagers and adults dress up in costumes and scary masks, waving a stick and chasing children through the streets. Of course, it’s all in fun, nobody gets hurt! If a child is caught by a Nalujuk, they have to sing a song in Inuktitut. If it’s performed well, they are given a treat.
- New Year’s Eve Gifts
While not as popular as a generation or two ago, some Newfoundland communities still celebrate New Year’s Day with a small gift. Stockings are often hung as on Christmas Eve. This dates back to the mediaeval tradition of giving gifts to welcome the New Year.
If you’re a native Newfoundlander, there’s definitely no place like home for the holidays – or if you’ve always wanted to visit, it’s a perfect time to experience the genuine hospitality and magic of the province.