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Hamilton’s levee on New Year’s Day

By Kevin Werner, News Staff

Hamilton mayor Bob Bratina will be greeting residents during his New Year’s Levee on Jan. 1, 2013.

Last year Bratina held his levee on Jan. 14, the Orthodox New Year to celebrate the city’s diversity.

Hamilton’s post-amalgamation mayors have continued a Canadian tradition of hosting a New Year’s Levee at city hall. Levees have also been held by Liberal cabinet minister Ted McMeekin, Conservative MP David Sweet, and Tory provincial leader Tim Hudak.

But Bratina also courted controversy, when in December 2011 his chief of staff sent out an email stating the 2012 levee would be cancelled to allow Bratina a family vacation.

The decision caused some consternation among a few residents who criticized the decision. A few held their own New Year’s levee outside City Hall.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s staff said the mayor won’t be holding his New Year’s Levee in 2013 after leaving for a vacation this week. But soon after there has been some talk among Ford’s staff about holding a more “family-friendly” event in January.

Bratina eventually said the issue was nothing more than a misunderstanding. About 50 people turned out for his 2012 levee, where Ukrainian Chaika dancers performed, bandura music was played, and the mayor sang a few traditional songs. The levee attracted a multi-cultural audience, including from the Serbian community, and members from the Mohawk College Chinese Association.

This year the levee will be held on Jan. 1 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on the second floor of city hall. A band from the HMCS Star will be providing entertainment. Refreshments also will be served.

Bratina said he wants to associate the levee with Hamilton’s Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders regiment.

Bratina has said previously it is difficult to hold a levee on Jan. 1 because city staff works on a statutory holiday.

The first levees were social events created in Francein the 15th century. Great Britain and Ireland formalized levees in the 18th century. In Canada, levees became associated with New Year’s, with the first one held in 1646 in New France.

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