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When "Belsnickle" visits Canadian boys and girls, he is likely to bring them gifts that reflect the youngsters love of winter sports and the great outdoors. Here we see this jolly character arriving with a traditional, star- topped tree as well as a bag with a hockey stick, stuffed beaver, toy soldier, and many other wonderful presents for good boys and girls. His dark red coat is trimmed in soft, white ermine, and he wears warm, furry boots to guard against the wind and cold. One of the highlights of Canadian Yuletide is a trip to the woods to select the perfect Christmas tree. Often the older youngsters in the family are entrusted with this assignment, and they try to choose a tree that will nearly touch the ceiling! A traditional Canadian Christmas tree features real candles, carefully lit and watched for safety's sake. Oftentimes, family members will tie small gifts right onto the tree branches, which makes it look all the more festive. For Catholics in Canada, Christmas Eve is traditionally a fast day--they might have only a homemade pea soup for supper that night in anticipation of the great meal to come after Midnight Mass. Little ones go to bed after supper and then are awakened to make their way to the church at midnight. After a beautiful service in church, families return home and although by now it is the middle of the night, no one is sleepy, for it is time for the revillon, or Christmas celebration. A huge and festive meal, gift- giving and carol singing continue until almost dawn.
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