HISTORY OF THE MOVING DAY
DO YOU KNOW THE MOVING DAY?
Moving Day or National Moving Day is a Quebec social phenomenon. Each year, between 200,000 and 250,000 Quebec households change their domicile on July 1 and in the days preceding this date.
Before 1975, moving to Quebec traditionally took place on May 1, as illustrated by Henri Julien in this “Moving scene, in Montreal, on May 1”, published on the front page of the illustrated newspaper L’Opinion publique, on May 18 1876.
The origin of a single day for the end of leases and removals has a long history in Quebec. According to historian Yvon Desloges, the custom of moving in the spring, mainly on May 1, goes back to the 18th century, as confirmed by an ordinance of 1750 promulgated by the intendant François Bigot1.
In 1974, the National Assembly of Quebec passed a law repealing certain provisions of the “Civil Code of Quebec” which set May 1 as the uniform expiry date for residential leases, an expiry date which had been enshrined in civil law since 1866 and was kept as it was for more than a century2.
The bill, which in the same breath created the Régie du logement du Québec, left it to landlords and tenants alone to agree on the expiry date of the lease. However, the transitional provisions of the law provided for the automatic extension of leases expiring on April 30 or May 1, 1975 to extend them until June 30, 1975. The measure was welcomed by many Quebecers since it avoided families the problems associated with the transfer of children from one school to another a few weeks before the end of the school year.
Since then, Quebecers, and in particular those in the central cities of Quebec and Montreal where tenants are in the strong majority — 65% in Quebec City and 75% in Montreal4 — have gotten into the habit of making the entry into force of leases coincide with the 1st July. It is estimated that between 200,000 and 250,000 households5,6,7 — or 20% of all renter households in Quebec4 — change residence during the moving period, which peaks on July 1st.
More than 70% of people who move on July 1 do not call on professionals.
78% of people who move order their meals at restaurants. The most popular dishes are pizza and roast chicken.
Moving trucks are rented by the hour during this period. They can be rented up to three times during the day.
Some movers are taking the opportunity to double their rates.
For Quebec movers, “high season” runs from June 10 to July 10. Movers work ten to fifteen hours a day, six days a week12.
A higher number of pets are abandoned during the week of July 1 than in normal times, the number of calls for abandoned animals to the Humane Society of Quebec doubles at this time of the year.
About ten years ago, this Quebec custom, which seems unique in the world, began to attract the attention of the international media. In the summer of 1998, a BBC film crew spent ten days in Montreal to produce a documentary entitled Under the Sun: Montreal Moving Day Madness in an attempt to explain this phenomenon14. This documentary, lasting 50 minutes, was broadcast for the first time on BBC Two, in Great Britain, on July 7, 1999 (Source http://fr.wikipedia.org).
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF “HOUSEWARMING”
Housewarming is an expression for a meal or a party organized to celebrate a move.
A cogwheel: the expression comes from a medieval tradition.
At the end of the construction of a house, it was customary to invite all the people who contributed to the work to come and eat, in order to thank them. In the Middle Ages, cooking was done with a pot in the hearth of the fireplace. In order to cook the food more or less strongly, a rack was used, which allowed the pot to be hung more or less close to the fire. The housewarming was the last thing installed in a house and marked the end of the moving in, and the beginning of the thanksgiving meal.
The housewarming was therefore a way of saying to friends and family: “The house is finished: we can celebrate together”.
Today, this expression means inviting friends to a meal, or to a party, to celebrate a moving in (even when the dwelling does not have a chimney).
IN THE WORLD
In English, the celebration takes the name of housewarming, literally “heating the house”. The tradition wanted that each guest brings a little wood to start the first fire in the chimney of a new house, and chase away the spirits.
THE INVENTION OF CARDBOARD:
The invention of cardboard in France dates back to 1751 and is attributed to a pupil of René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur who would have developed it for very specific applications such as covers, binding boxes and playing cards.
Corrugated cardboard was first used in the United States in 1871.
In 1889, an English corrugating machine was installed in France (S.F.P.O, Société Française de Papiers Ondulés).
In 1914, the first French machine for manufacturing corrugated cardboard boxes was built. This type of cardboard is characterized by a “corrugation coefficient”: length required in meters of corrugated paper to manufacture one linear meter of corrugated cardboard.
THE INVENTION OF BUBBLE WRAPPING
Bubble wrap was created by two engineers, Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes in 1957. Like many inventions, it was accidental: they were trying to create a textured wallpaper with relief that could be easily washed off.
They named this cushioning cellular material AirCap. Bubble Wrap, as it is now called bubble wrap, is marketed by what became Sealed Air Corp.
WHY DO WE SAY ”MOVING TO LA CLOCHE DE BOIS”
In the middle of the 19th century, the first known version of this expression was “to move with the string”, this rope which made it possible to discreetly lower one’s belongings through the window, then to pass in front of the concierge empty-handed, so as not to wake up his suspicions when one wanted to leave the premises furtively, without paying the rent (without forgetting the probable link with this term ‘string’ which formerly also designated a crook, a trickster).
At the same time, we also used “to the wooden doorbell” with exactly the same meaning. Of course the concierge’s bell wasn’t really made of wood, otherwise he wouldn’t have heard many people asking for it, but this shape clearly indicates the discreet side of the movement of someone who wants to leave surreptitiously without risking being alert anyone who could hold him accountable.
It is a little later, it seems, that the ‘bell’, a very small instrument, was replaced by the ‘bell’, a more conspicuous object (but just as discreet if it is made of wood), marking thus even better the furtive side of the disappearance of the tenant.
We also say “to move without fanfare or trumpet”. As these two musical instruments are also noisy, like a metallic bell, it is their absence this time that allows you to leave the premises without being detected.