May Day Celebration in New France

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"The chief festivities occurred at Michaelmas, Christmas, Easter, and May Day. Of these, the first and the last were closely connected with the seigneurial system. On Michaelmas the habitant came to pay the annual rental for his lands; on May Day he rendered the Maypole homage which, has been already described. Christmas and Easter were the great festivals of the Church and as such were celebrated with religious fervor and solemnity. In addition, minor festivals, chiefly religious in character, were numerous, so much so that their frequency even in the months of cultivation was the subject of complaint by the civil authorities, who felt that these holidays took altogether too much time from labor. Sunday was a day not only of worship but of recreation. Clad in his best raiment, every one went to Mass, whatever the distance or the weather. The parish church indeed was the emblem of village solidarity, for it gathered within its walls each Sunday morning all sexes and ages and ranks. The habitant did not separate his religion from his work or his amusements; the outward manifestations of his faith were not to his mind things of another world; the church and its priests were the center and soul of his little community. The whole countryside gathered about the church doors after the service while the "capitaine de la cote", the local representative of the intendant, read the decrees that had been sent to him from the seals of the mighty at the Chateau de St. Louis. That duty over, there was a garrulous interchange of local gossip with a retailing of such news as had dribbled through from France. The crowd then melted away in groups to spend the rest of the day in games or dancing or in friendly visits of one family with another." Source
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