Getting Organized for Christmas

Getting Organized for Christmas

In 1943, BC Electric Home Service[i] produced a Home Service Bulletin booklet titled Christmas Festivities[ii], eight pages of menus and recipes.  It began with a time-table:

What stood out for me on this list was putting up the decorations on December 22. I am already seeing decorated Christmas trees and outside lights and decorations in homes in my neighbourhood!

Christmas cakes[iii]and plum puddings were listed as the first culinary items to be prepared at the beginning of December and recipes were included.


Both recipes call for candied cherries and I presume candied peel although it is not clear.[iv]

Christmas Festivities was published in the middle of World War II, and the note at the end of the cake recipe acknowledges possible shortages and substitutes. An alternative recipe for the Plum Pudding, titled Christmas Pudding (1943) was also included.  It included grated potatoes and less expensive ingredients.

The second task for December task was to prepare a market list, and in order to do that , the holiday  menus had to be determined.

These menus are not that different from traditional Christmas dinners offered today in many Canadian homes and restaurants.  They are very much influenced by our colonial / British roots.

One item that intrigued me was Ice Cream Sauce. I am more familiar with plum pudding served with Hard Sauce.  The recipe for Ice Cream Sauce looks to me to be a modification of a cornstarch pudding.

The December 24 task mentions  “draw the turkey”. If you are not familiar with this task, it refers to cleaning and preparing a bird that has only been plucked or defeathered and still needs to have the innards (also referred to as entrails or viscera) and often head and feet, removed. This is how it is described later in the bulletin:

It’s unlikely that many people would actually have to do this today, as turkeys available in grocery stores and butcher shops are already drawn. If you happen to hunt wild turkeys in BC you would have drawn it before you froze it for Christmas. ( It would have to be frozen if you were saving it for Christmas because the hunting season for wild turkey in Region eight, the Okanagan and Region 4, the Kootenays, the two areas in British Columbia with wild turkey flocks, is only open from April 15th to May 15th in the spring and from October 1st to 15th in the fall[v].)

As the holiday season approaches it is interesting to look at historical accounts such as Christmas Festivities to see what has endured and what has changed.  What rules in your home? Has turkey been replaced by roast beef, wild pacific salmon, vegan/vegetarian options, or going out to a restaurant? Do you mix traditional items with cultural dishes?  Have you opted for lighter desserts?  No matter what is chosen, food is central to maintaining familial, social and cultural ties during the holiday season.

[i] See

[ii] The complete booklet is available at

[iii] See

[iv] See

[v] For more information on turkey, see Thanksgiving Backgrounder






One Response to Getting Organized for Christmas

  1. Diane O'Shea December 11, 2018 at 1:14 pm #

    Visions of “drawing” poultry came to mind! So hard to believe that poultry was sold like this.

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