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Rivard, John T. / Triple centennial jubilee souvenir book : Somerset
(c1956)

A century of faith,   pp. [39]-108


Page 105

FRENCH HOLY DAYS AND CUSTOMS
Somerset, where I was born, was founded by General Sam
Harriman before the Civil War, but early in its history the
French Canadians came down from Quebec, Montreal, Trois
Rivieres and environs to work in the lumber mills on the Apple
River as lumberjacks.
When I was a little girl -  and that's quite a while ago
nothing but French was heard on the streets. At school we
learned arithmetic, geography, history and so forth, in French.
We had each day a lesson in English, about a half hour a day.
LE JOUR DE L'AN
Five Generations
New Year's Day is really the most important feast day in  Many such pictures could have been taken in our history. Pictured
the French Canadian calendar and tops the lisi of family social  above, in order of age: Mrs. Zephirin Germain, Mrs. Augustin
Belisle, Mrs. Lawrence Parnell, Mrs. Eli Baillargeon, and Rosablle
events . . . The family always gathered at the patriarchal home.  Baillargeon.
In the morning all the children knelt at their father's feet, as
soon as they saw him, for his blessing. He placed a hand on
each bowed head, making the sign of the cross while making a
short prayer . . . No matter how old, or how long away from
home, whether single or married the visiting children or visit-
ing grandchildren knelt for the patriarchial blessing as soon as
they entered the house.
Everyone kissed each other on New Year's Day.     The
young men when calling on their sweetheart started by kissing
the grandmother, the mother, and all the other girls in the fam-
ily so that no one could object when he finally kissed his sweet-
heart.
There was always much visiting on New Year's Day with
neighbors and friends calling on each other. I also remember
the custom of "Courrir la Vigne Alle". One man began by
calling on his neighbor and enjoying a glass -  or more -  of
wine, after which the two of them called at the home of a
third friend for another glass of wine, and so on until there were
zo or more stopping for the glass of wine. The last visit was
made to the richest man in the neighborhood, as he alone would
have enough glasses and wine to exercise the hospitality.
CADEAUX ET TOURTIERES
Gifts were always exchanged-between adults on New Year's
Day -   and the children looked- also for gifts, which were sup-
posed to be brought during the night by "CroqueMitaine" . . .
And of course there was always a big dinner to end off the
day.., the table for the family dinner was festive with the best
dishes, glassware and silver . . . French Canadians were very
fond of goose, stuffed and beautifully roasted, with the traditional
"tourtiere a la viande" as a close second.  The tourtieres, or                  Les Gars de Somerset
meat pies, made of ground pork with onions and spices with a  These young blades were arrested for crashing a party at the
rich crust, were baked just beforethe start of "les fetes". Start-  Payette home in 1913. They were not invited so they charivaried
the place. A. J. Vanasse took them to Hudson.
ing with Christmas Day on to New Year's Day and "Le Jour     Left to Right, First Row: Louis Cloutier, Fred Belisle, Israel Rondeau.
des Rois" (Epiphany, January 6) -  a holy day in Canada -    Second Row: Amable Morrisette, Henry Belisle, Ferd. Belisle, Henry
with the Sundays in between, made a lot of holidays for feast,  Bergeron. Third Row: A. J. Vanosse, Bill Meinke, Zephire Belisle,
ing, visiting and celebrating.                               Archie Montpetit, Willie Cloutier, Louis Roy.
Housewives would prepare for the round of entertaining
by baking as many as 30 to 40 tourtieres, Z5 dozen doughnuts,
as well as many fruit pies of all kinds, which were frozen and
then warmed up in the oven when needed. Every household
had a special cupboard built on the porch just off the kitchen
where the frozen food was kept.
MARDI GRAS
"Les Fetes" was the start of "Le Carnaval", each family
receiving their relatives, friends and neighbors in their homes,
the round of festivities ending with Mardi Gras, which is the day              le
before Lent begins.  On the even'n   of Mardi Gras people                     Oldest Couplies In Somerset
ing                         Mr. and Mrs. Eli Baillargeon, 55 years, and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph
would dress in masquerade and go calling on neighbors before  Bergeron, 57 years. Others over fifty years married: Mr. and Mrs.
gathering at some home to celebrate until midnight.          John Laventure, Mr. and Mrs. Ferd. Breault, and Albert Germain.


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