How did you celebrate Christmas? Bryan and I headed east to Newfoundland for the holidays. Newfoundland is the island on the East Coast of Canada and officially became a province and joined Canada in 1949. Before that, we were the Dominion of Newfoundland and a dependent territory of the United Kingdom. Located on the Northeast Coast of the island is Bonavista Bay, which opens on the Atlantic Ocean. This is where my family is from.
A Christmas spent in Newfoundland with my parents is simply the best. The traditions, the laughter, the FOOD, and the time spent with my loved ones is priceless. There are a number of unique Newfoundland Christmas traditions that are a part of my life and some other must-do’s for Christmas or when I’m in Newfoundland.
The weather was fabulous and most days around 1°C with very little snow. The weather in Alberta had a cold spell in the -30°C’s while we were away.
This trip was all about the food.
On the Trans Canada Highway between St. John’s and home is Goobies Restaurant. Every Newfoundlander knows about Goobies. Bologna is on the menu, a Cold Plate is the special, your choice is white, whole wheat or sweet raisin bread, and the turkey soup has salt meat in it.
There’s nothing more comforting than going home to your parents house and cabin. Many a night was spent sitting around the kitchen table playing 500’s. Mom and I won more games than Dad and Bryan did, although they would try to dispute that.
Christmas celebrations start on December 23 in Newfoundland, the eve of Christmas Eve ~ this is known as Tibb’s Eve. Drink up!! Check out this article from Saltwire talking about the origins of Tibb’s Eve: Saltwire: The Origins of Tibb’s Eve.
We celebrated Tibb’s Eve by having a ladies night in my cousin’s shed ~ my Mom and I, my cousin, her eldest daughter and her mother-in-law hung out, drank wine & beer, ate chips & dip and watched Lady Chatterley’s Lover on NetFlix. Apparently, this is based on a book which I do NOT have. That needs to be remedied.
Snowballs and Fruitcake
I look forward to my Mom’s snowballs every Christmas. I tell myself there are no calories and scarfing down a few (or many!) of these is good for my waistline. Every year, Mom also makes a fruitcake. I have never made a fruitcake, but have many memories of watching my Mom make hers and eating it.
- 4 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup coconut
- 6 tablespoons cocoa
- Mix and melt on the stove: 1 cup Carnation milk, 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1 small pack butter, 6 teaspoons vanilla
- Mix with the dry ingredients and let cool in fridge
- Roll in little balls and then roll in the coconut
- Soak in rum overnight: 1 lb each of raisins, currants, dates, cherries, 1 can tangerines, 1 cup mixed fruit
- Simmer on the stove for 15 minutes: 2 cups warm water, 2 cups brown sugar, 1 cup butter, 1 tsp vanilla
- Mix 6 cups flour, 4 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cloves, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp allspice
- Mix together
- Bake at 275 for 1 1/2 hours
The best of times! Up bright and early to open presents under the tree my Dad cut from the back of the house.
Wear the elastic pants! Our holiday suppers are always the same ~ Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. I cook the same supper too, but Mom’s always tastes better. Now to give the chef the credit, Dad did the cooking this year!
Collins Christmas Supper
- Potatoes, Carrots, Turnips, Cabbage
- Salt Beef
- Peas Pudding
- Plain Pudding (aka Bread Pudding)
Speaking of the gravy, what is going on with stuff being discontinued? Gravy Browning and Bread & Roll Mix are prime examples. Did anyone stockpile Crosse & Blackwell Gravy Browning? I only have less than 1/2 bottle left.
Boxing Day Breakfast & Supper
Take all your Christmas supper leftovers and fry it up for breakfast and make a pot of turkey soup for supper.
Jigg’s Dinner is what Newfoundland is famous for. This is what we have for Sunday dinner. Mom always had chicken/turkey and gravy with our Sunday dinners.
- Salt Beef
- Peas Pudding
- Pot Liquor
Blueberry Duff & Figgy Duff
After all that, what do we eat for dessert? There’s a couple choices for a steamed pudding also done in the pudding bags.
Blueberry Duff or Figgy Duff
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cup blueberries (Blueberry Duff)
- 1 1/2 cup raisins (Figgy Duff)
- Mix it all up, put in the pudding bag, and boil for a couple hours
Dress up as weird as possible, wear your underwear outside of your clothes, disguise yourself with something like a lace tablecloth or cardbox box over year head, and go out and start knocking on doors asking if any mummers are allowed in. Go in, have a drink, and move on to the next house. Stay in disguise until somebody identifies you. Fun!!
The “Ugly Stick” is a musical instrument made out of a mop, beer bottle caps, bells, cans, and anything else that makes some noise. Put a rubber boot on the end of the mop and you have yourself an ugly stick that sounds like a drum.
Traditionally, mummering takes place during the 12 days of Christmas (between Christmas Day and Old Christmas Day). Old Christmas Day is January 6 and I hear the reference to Old Christmas Day every year. Mom does not take her Christmas tree down until Old Christmas Day.
Toutons (aka Tiffins) is fried bread dough and a tradional Newfoundland favourite. It is delicious. We went into Gander one day (about an hour’s drive) and our first stop was Rosie’s. Located in Gander, Rosie’s Restaurant & Bakery is a must-do for me. I always have toutons with molasses. Mom and I both ordered toutons and the waitress came back to the table and said there was only one order left. Mom ordered something else and was letting me have the touton order. Then the waitress came back and told me the one order was already taken by a take-out order. I didn’t get toutons that day. I have never been so disappointed.
Mom made me some the next morning. They were fabulous, especially with the warm molasses on top.
A Turr is a salt water bird from the Atlantic Ocean. To say it is my favourite is an understatement. Mom’s best friend Joan always saves me one and cooks it up for me. I was in food heaven. Mom makes turr gravy and I can eat it with a spoon.
Dad’s youngest sister is the same age as me so I’ve never called her Aunt ~ she’s more like a cousin to me. She brought down some baked goodies when she visited and I didn’t get any. I did get a copy of my grandmother’s hand written recipe for the Jelly Squares which Bryan loved and informed me I should learn how to make them. In the morning, Bryan had a note left for us in the tub. Aunt Jill has definitely moved up on his favourite cook list.
- Peas Pudding ~ soak yellow split peas overnight in a bowl of water, boil in a pudding bag until mushy, mash with butter
- Salt Beef ~ boil the salt out of the meat, change your water, boil again!
- Pudding Bags ~ every Newfie has these in a drawer somewhere
- Stuffing ~ breadcrumbs, diced onions, melted butter, and savory
Christmas With The Kranks
This is not a Newfoundland tradition, this is a tradition for my Mom and I. Every year, we settle in with a bottle of wine and laugh our way through this movie. It is funny over and over again. Jamie Lee Curtis is hilarious! “Luther, it’s not even Saturday night!”
We’re big Yellowstone fans and we binged 1883. It was better than Yellowstone and I need some closure with Sam. Did he go looking for her when she didn’t return and learn what happened? One of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. We started on 1923 too and it’s painful waiting for the next episode next week. I need to binge.
Over Too Soon
Newfoundland is a sight to behold at anytime. I always leave with a box full of goodies and this year is no exception ~ bottled moose! In the blink of an eye, we were heading back to Alberta and since I ate so well, there is “more” of me flying back home.
Happy Travels, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Jackie is “Mom” to one amazing son, an IT professional, and an obsessed traveller. She spends her time reading, golfing at Ladies League, and implementing software projects. Jackie has travelled to 7 continents and 90 countries and is always planning the next destination and adventure!
6 Replies to “A Newfoundland Christmas”
Wow! Sounds like a wonderful holiday!
I will be trying out some of your posted recipes!! Snowballs and the Blueberry Duff… Thank you!
Yes – 1883 is wayyyy better than Yellowstone! I am too waiting on 1923.
Enjoyed your post Jackie!
Glad you liked it Linda. Let me know how the recipes go and what you think.
Merry Christmas 🎄
We sure enjoyed having you and Bryan with us for Christmas and yes it was a blast ❣️❣️❣️There’s nothing
Ike a good old Newfie Christmas 👍🥰🥰
Looking forward to December for the next one.
It sure was wonderful having you and Bryan home with us celebrating and enjoying those awesome traditions we have ❣️❣️🥰
It was wonderful!! xoxo