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The charivari originated in Europe (primarily France but also in Germany) in the Middle-Ages and came to Canada with the French. A charivari was directed at someone who was making a moral transgression by marrying someone much younger or much older than themselves. In a few instances, mixed race parings were met with violent, even deadly, charivaris. During the Lower Canadian Rebellion of 1837, the charivari became a powerful political tool to discourage local government officials from siding with the British colonial government.

A not all-together terrible look at what the Rebellion may have looked like. Produced by the CBC.

Interesting Stuff:

I highly suggest reading Allan Greer to contextualize the charivari in Lower Canada.

J-store article on charivaris- Greer

An excellent blog post summarizing the evolution of the charivari

Study Questions

1. In what ways can the charivari be considered a social or cultural phenomenon? In which ways can it be considered political?

2. Why would charivaris eventually be suppressed and the practice all but eliminated from Canadian culture?

3. How can we consider the charivaris in the context of the Lower Canadian Rebellion?

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