Sooke mayor resurrects New Year's levée

Sooke mayor resurrects New Year’s levée

Just like monarchs and magistrates of old welcomed their town folk in the new year, Maja Tait will hold a special levée on Jan. 1

Welcoming the new year in happy spirits is always a good idea, so Sooke is bringing back a New Year’s tradition that’s lost everywhere else in the world except Canada: the levée.

Just like monarchs and magistrates of old welcomed their town folk in the new year, more than 300 years ago in Europe, Sooke Mayor Maja Tait will hold a special levée on New Year’s Day (Jan. 1) in the Sooke council chamber at Municipal Hall from 10 a.m. to noon.

Unlike previous levées, there will be extra celebration woven into the event to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary. Overall though, it’s just a feel-good, welcoming event for everyone in the community to come and enjoy.

“It’s just a nice way of greeting everyone into the new year and starting off fresh and on a positive note,” Tait said

Refreshments will be served along with music performances by Harmony Project students and The Beatniks, featuring Janet McTavish.

What is a levée anyway?

In holding a New Year’s levée, Sooke is carrying on a tradition that’s more than 350 years old in Canada. It’s derived from European tradition, though the practice of the Crown’s representative or mayors hosting their citizens at the start of each year has evolved into a distinct, almost uniquely, a Canadian tradition.

“Beyond its historical resonance, the levée is a wonderful opportunity for citizens to come together and meet their representatives and each other, as well as help build a sense of community,” said John Lutz, chair of the department of history at the University of Victoria.

Like the word dictates, it’s French, originating from levée du soleil (rising of the sun) of King Louis XIV. It was his custom to receive his servants in his bed chamber after rising, a practice that spread throughout Europe.

While the tradition is no longer held in Europe, it continues to live on in Canada. More than 50 towns in Canada have New Year’s levées, including Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay and Esquimalt.

The first recorded levée in Canada was on Jan. 1, 1646 at the Chateau St. Louis in Quebec by Charles Huault de Montmagny, governor of New France from 1636 to 1648.

Either way, a levée’s purpose is to meet and greet each other at the start of something new, as well as enjoy good company, good entertainment, and delicious treats, Tait said.

Not a bad way to start the new year.

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich Fire Department. Black Press Media File Photo
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

The biggest risk to the Island's economy post-earthquake is that it may never return, according to Bruce Williams, interim CEO of the South Island Prosperity Partnership. (Contributed by Bruce Williams)
Greater Victoria businesses in chamber spotlight for 2021 awards

Annual awards program highlights local companies making the most of things, despite the pandemic

A shot from the rehearsal of Being Here: The Refugee Project, the Belfry Theatre’s filmed play that’s set to open on March 16. (Photo: Belfry Theatre)
Victoria’s Belfry Theatre shows filmed play on refugee, sponsor experience

Being Here: The Refugee Project is based off the first-hand accounts of refugees and their sponsors

Alain Bedard’s Two Shores on acrylic is in the West End Gallery in March. (Alain Bedard Image)
At The Galleries: March exhibitions come to life

A look at what’s on display this month at Greater Victoria art galleries

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read