New Year’s Day & French Canadian-Americans

Check this discussion thread from 2002 on Jacques L’Heureux’s Franco-American Connection website for the cultural significance of New Year’s Day among French Canadians.

And why is New Year’s Day an official holiday in Massachusetts? Here’s the Lowell connection from :

New Year’s Day, however, was not an American holiday. It was for many years distinctively the French-Canadians’ day. All the mills were open as usual but the French-Canadian help refused to work. This presented difficulties in maintaining operating crews and frequently resulted in trouble between management and employees. It was not until 1914 that New Year’s Day became a legal holiday in Massachusetts. Urged by a demand made by French-Canadians throughout the state, Representative Henry Achin of Lowell obtained passage of the bill in that year. It was preceded by a hard fight having been before our state government for a number of years. Frank P. Allen (Ed. Note: A well known Franco-American resident of Fitchburg) was a member of the legislature in the year of its passage. So, when we celebrate New Year’s Day, we should remember that our own Frank was instrumental in making the holiday possible.

3 Responses to New Year’s Day & French Canadian-Americans

  1. Joan H says:

    In Quebec – New Year’s Eve and Day were and still iare a time for visiting family , going from house to house to greet each other and wish every one a happy and prosperous New Year. That tradition continued when many of my husband’s ancestors ly moved down the late 1800’s. Often it was the only time some of the cousins would see each other.

  2. Marie says:

    Our friend Mehmed Ali is an expert on the New Year’s Day holiday legislation and Henry Achin’s role – it’s a very big Lowell connection.

  3. Paula McCarron says:

    Ahh…I’m a day or so late to this conversation. Too much relaxation over the New Year weekend, I suppose. In my own family, the tradition of making pork pies survived as Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day treats. Just as this article indicates, we’d see several family members trooping in on New Year’s Day for prolonged visits. Now in my generation, my sisters and I will make pork pies for our Christmas Eve
    supper and plenty to eat throughout the week between the holidays. Thanks for this information on the New Year’s “strike” by the French Canadians. The information will be a good bit of cultural history to add to my genealogy work.