The Christmas Season at Turtle Mountain in North Dakota
The old French end Indian spirit of Christmas begins at Christmas Eve with midnight mass. After the services are over we all begin to greet our friends. Then we hurry to get home to the little ones and do our part with Santa Claus.
We are awakened in the morning very early, by the sounds of little bugles, trumpets, drums and all sorts of merry-making toys. The little children with their mouths filled with candy and laughter make us all happy, and we wish all the world a Merry Christmas.
[At New Years] Our custom is for the older people to remain at home to await the visits of their children. The parents of the wife are visited first. On arriving at the home of her parents early New Year's morning, the woman kneels in front of her father who gives her absolution and a blessing for the coming year. She then rises and he greets her, "Happy New Year!", and kisses her. Greetings are then exchanged all around, wraps are taken off and all sit down at the table. Home-made drinks of some kind are uaually served before eating. Sometimes old French songs are sung.
The main dishes for this celebration are "bullettes", which are meat balls made of hamburger or other ground meat, onions, salt, pepper and flour mixed together and boiled. Then there is a special kind of cake or pudding called, "La Puchin", which is made of flour, raisins, brown sugar, nutmeg, cloves, soda and milk stirred together. This mixture is poured into a prepared linen bag, which is sewed up at the end, put into a kettle of boiling water and boiled for one and one-half hours.
We then choose a certain home in which to meet at night for a merry old-time dance. We have the old-time quadrilles, French four, double Jig and all that goes with old times.
By Joe Trottier and Pete Marcellais.
SOURCE: U.S. Office of Indian Affairs (1936) Indians at Work: A News Sheet for Indians and the Indian Service. US DOI, Washington, DC.