Army Cadets’ Christmas Dinner
Centuries-old military traditions flavour the event
2520 71 Field Battery, Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, celebrated a customary Christmas dinner at the Army, Navy &Air Force Veterans Unit 10, Brandon, Man., December 14, 2011.
A custom of the Canadian military is the Christmas tradition of the reversal of roles between the officers and those in lower rank. This role-reversal stems from ancient Roman times and the celebration of the festival of Saturnalia where slaves and children traded duties for special privileges with their masters and parents.
At Christmas time, throughout the Canadian Forces, rules are bent in the spirit of good cheer, and the youngest member of the unit or ship trades places with the Commanding Officer by exchanging jackets and assuming the honour as Commander of the day. Although the origins of this long-standing custom cannot be traced to any specific event or time period in Canadian history, it became a ‘standard’ practice in the British military from at least the 18th Century and was seen as a gesture of appreciation towards the junior ranks, boosting morale.
Officers, warrant officers, and senior non-commissioned officers organize the dinner, as well as prepare and serve it to the junior ranks of their unit. The officers’ task is not complete until the entire dining area and kitchen is cleaned up long after the junior ranks have gone home!
In the spirit of esprit de corps, eight officers of 2520 RCACC took to the kitchen and served the attending Cadets their Christmas meal of turkey with all the trimmings!
The evening meal began with the traditional piping in of the dignitaries with Piper Brent Lowrie of 26 Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery leading the way to the head table. Dignitaries included Lieutenant-Colonel Leo Brodeur, Commanding Officer Regional Cadet Support Unit (Prairie); Captain Geoffrey Popovits, Battery Commander, 71 Field Battery, RCA; officers from CFB Shilo and 26 Fd Regt, RCA; and Al Dunham, President Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans Unit 10.
Following tradition, Captain Joseph Lussier, Commanding Officer 2520 71 Fd Bty RCACC, assumed a lower rank for the evening by promoting the youngest Cadet, Princeton Wood, as Honorary Commanding Officer for the day.
As one of the newest members to join Brandon’s Army Cadets, Cadet Wood was both surprised and delighted with the exchange of command. When asked what he and Captain Lussier talked about over dinner, he responded, “I don’t even know. I was just too excited to talk!”
Both LCol Brodeur and Capt Popovits addressed the Cadets, encouraging them to stay in school and to continue to work hard. They also encouraged them to start planning for their future; whether that be attending upcoming summer training camps, or furthering their studies as they contemplate possible career choices. All were reminded that these young people are our future and they deserve the best from us.
Two senior Cadets were awarded medals for their dedication to their corps. Warrant Officer Dustin Cotton and Sergeant Matthew Meeches received the Army Cadet Long Service Medal.
LCol Brodeur also awarded Master Bombardier William Cannon his Commanding Officer’s coin for outstanding leadership and dedication to Army Cadets.
It was a successful evening of officers and Cadets together enjoying excellent food, tradition and ceremony.