Christmas Traditions in Canada
Christmas traditions in Canada are many and as diverse as the country itself! As in many Western countries with a Catholic tradition, Canada celebrates Christmas on the 25th of December, which is also an official national holiday. Many Canadians then take time off and flock the most scenic places of the country!
As per tradition, Christmas is for gifts and sharing. If you are looking to buy gifts for your loved or close ones, better not push it! Many shops will definitely be closed on 25th, so your best bet if you are late is to head shopping on 24th of December, which is Christmas Eve. Especially on 24th shops will be packed, so be sure to take time into account! Most shops will stay open until 5 or 6 P.M.
But remember that, even if Christmas is not for you or you don’t want to spend it with family, there’s much more going on in December! As Canada is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, many cities observe other festivities as well. Many celebrate Hannukah nationwide, most importantly in Toronto and Montreal, cities with a large Jewish population. The Chinese New Year in January is yet another widespread festivity that is becoming accepted at the heart of Canadian culture.
Gifts, food and shopping
Here’s how it happens: by 24th, most people have already bought gifts, which are essential to the value of sharing at the center of Christmas spirit. Each home places a Christmas Tree and decorates it, and finally on 25th there is a traditional Christmas feast for the whole family. Friends and neighbors may also join.
On Christmas Day, a Christmas meal is a must. This usually consists of roast turkey, seasonal vegetables, potatoes, and a rich gravy. Apart from this staple meal, dessert is also huge on Christmas! Traditional Christmas desserts include Christmas puddings and tarts, as well as crackers. Some families also opt for a Christmas Cake. This cake is usually fruit-based.
Canadians shrug off the food-coma by 26th of December, known as Boxing Day. Boxing Day is the absolute day for shopping: most stores will slash prices hoping to attract holiday shoppers. If you are a tourist, or just a local eyeing on the occasion, use Boxing Day to treat yourself!
Christmas Traditions in Cities
But Christmas isn’t merely a time to spend at home! Many places in Canada offer deals and discounts during Christmas. Fly to the biggest cities of Canada to enjoy the many events happening! Prices usually peak the weekend before and the days after Christmas, and again soon after New Year’s. Also take into account that public transport schedule will be reduced for the holidays.
One of the most famous Christmas traditions in Canada is that of Christmas Parades, a popular celebration all across the country. This parade is usually held in honor of Santa Claus, and Santa Claus will also be present at the parade, greeting the thousands of spectators and welcoming the holiday season. The longest-standing Christmas Parade is Toronto’s Santa Claus Parade, but also check the outstanding Vancouver’s Rogers Park Santa Claus Parade.
Quebec City and Montreal opt for a different kind of atmosphere: with their historic, scenic city centers decorated and light shows installed, these two beautiful cities aim to evoke their old European roots.
The capital Ottawa also packs up lights, events and parades. Head to the picturesque Rideau Canal for pictures, outdoor live music and light shows aplenty.