1954: Few Jersey customs connected with Christmas (1)

December 12th, 2013

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1954: Few Jersey customs connected with Christmas (1)

Office du Jerriaisfood, history, La Fête dé Noué

Few Jersey customs connected with Christmas
Ringing of Three-parish Church Bells is One

Saint Hélyi Jèrri Fête dé Noué 2013 57Few customs connected with Christmas and native to the Island exist here to-day, as shown by Mr. Philip Ahier, B.Sc., in this article, the probability being that they were swept away at the Reformation, as in the case of Jersey folk songs and dances.

The celebration of Christmas after 1576 was very much frowned upon by the Calvinists and Huguenots, whose religious tenets were mainly of a kill-joy variety. It is quite likely that a repetition of this dreary, sombre spirit existed during the Commonwealth period, but after the days of William III and the coming of English soldiers there came a transformation.

As far as can be ascertained from the few scanty resources at our disposal, the children in any parish on Christmas Eve would call on their wealthy neighbours and “chant” the following words in Jersey-French: “Noué, Noué; man Noué si vouos pliaît!” Here we have the genesis of the modern Christmas boxes and Christmas carols, although these too go back to the early days of Christianity itself. I gather that this custom of “Man Noué” still exists in the parishes of St. Clement and St. John.

In pagan times at the feast of Saturn, eating and drinking constituted an important feature. When the festival of Christmas replaced the pagan one, so we first meet with the same “pleasures of the table” being indulged in. In Elizabethan days, the principal midday items of the “menu” in Jersey were soup and salted pork, but this austerity was removed at Christmas by either fresh pork or fresh beef. It seems that turkeys were introduced to Jersey as 1620 and it is quite possible that the wealthier members of the community regaled themselves with this delicacy.

(à siéthe)

Evening Post 22/12/1954