In Longfellow's Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie, during what part of the year/holiday season is Evangeline exiled from her home? Some details seem to imply Halloween and others Christmas.

In the poem itself, there are several hints that point me to a specific answer (my emphasis). According to the Prelude, it is probably in October:

Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed!
Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October
Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o'er the ocean
Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pré.

In Canto II, we find that the harvest has apparently just passed and,

Such was the advent of autumn. Then followed that beautiful season,
Called by the pious Acadian peasants the Summer of All-Saints!

The "Summer of All-Saints" seems to allude to both the Celtic new year (Samhain, "Summer's End") as well as All Saints' Day, leading to a conclusion that the expulsion takes place around Halloween. Despite this, not much later in Canto II, we find that,

Fragments of song the old man sang, and carols of Christmas,

It is very odd that all of these hints seem to point to Halloween yet someone is singing Christmas carols. Christmas is definitely not in October and, at least in North America, takes place a month and a half to two months after the completion of the harvest and definitely not contemporary to it. In addition, North American winter traditionally starts at the winter solstice (a few days before Christmas), firmly making Christmas a winter holiday and Halloween a fall/autumn one.

When in the year is the village of Grand-Pré burned and Evangeline and Gabriel exiled? Is it around Allhallowtide, Christmastide, or some other season of the year?

1 Answer 1


The reference to October is not relating to the timing of events, but as an allusion to how the people have been scattered since then, by the Great Expulsion like autumn leaves.

The reference to Summer of All-Saints is the period also called 'Brewer's Summer, defined here as

The second or autumnal summer, said to last thirty days, begins about the time that the sun enters Scorpio (October 23rd). It is variously called -

(1) St. Martin's summer (L'éte de St. Martin). St. Martin's Day is the 11th November.

“Expect St. Martin's summer, halcyon days.”

Shakespeare: 1 Henry VI., i. 2.

(2) All Saints' summer (All Saints' is the 1st November), or All Hallowen summer.

A thirty day duration takes that season up to the 23rd of November, which is only four days shy of the earliest date possible for the first Sunday in Advent, the 27th November, when Christmas carols start to become appropriate. Though in 1755, the year of the Expulsion from Grand-Pre, Advent began on November 30th.

With regard to the harvest references, you didn't quote any lines, but this bit is interesting:

Late, with the rising moon, returned the wains from the marshes,
Laden with briny hay, that filled the air with its odor.

In most places, if you are bringing hay in for storage, you do it once it has been cut and dried, but things are different in Acadia, and the clue is in the reference to the marshes and the briny hay. This website explains the way that the Acadians cut a hay crop off the salt marshes, but stored it on elevated platforms on the marsh:

While it was possible for men to work on the marsh, the soft ground made it impossible for wagons and carts to be employed for much of the year, due to the fact that their wheels cut into the earth and became bogged down. With the hay stacked on the elevated platforms, the farmers could await cold weather when the marsh was frozen in order to bring the hay to their farms.

So the fact of wains bringing in salt marsh hay means that the time is far enough into winter for the marshes to be frozen. Coupled with the duration of All-Saints Summer, a date of late November in the week before Advent is plausible, and appropriate for an old man to be singing bits of Christmas carols to himself.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.