Sainte-Marie among the Hurons captures mood of Christmas past
Every December, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons glows with the light of 5,000 -- part of the historical site's annual First Light celebrations. (Photo courtesy Sainte-Marie among the Hurons)
MIDLAND, Ont. -- The captivating call of native drumming draws us down a flickering candlelit path, leading us back in time through the atmospheric amber glow of Huronia's famous 17th-century mission.
First Light at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons has become a magical Christmas tradition for my husband and me these past 17 years. The candlelit historic site glows with over 5,000 candles and captures the magical mood of Christmas past.
The delicious smell of home-baked goods beckons from the cookhouse. A lively fiddle calls us to join in some traditional toe-tapping folk songs. The clang of metal rings from the blacksmith shop. Smoke wafts from the open fires of the cedar longhouse, where dried herbs and smoky deer hides are the timeless backdrop for native drumming, dancing, singing and storytelling.
In the solitary wooden chapel, a lone flickering candle on the dirt floor marks the final resting place of Father Jean de Brebeuf, a French Jesuit missionary who worked with the Huron for much of his life, and learned their language and culture. The sweet voices of a local school choir fill the simple chapel with the haunting Huron Carol, believed to have been written at Sainte-Marie by Father Brebeuf in 1643.
NEED TO KNOW
Sainte-Marie's First Light continues Dec. 1-3 and Dec. 8-10, from 5:30 to 9:00 pm. Follow the candlelit path to neighbouring Martyrs' Shrine to see the live nativity scene, part of this year's First Light celebrations. Admission is $10 per person with a donation of a non-perishable food item. Kids under five are free. See saintemarieamongthehurons.on.ca.