That’s my second time spending Christmas in Canada and it seems like we will be wearing bikinis and sunglasses on Dec 25th because you can’t even consider it winter with this weather (thank god though). Unfortunately, It was really hard to me to be with my family this Holidays since I work in the mall and I’ll be very busy working on boxing day (Dec 26th), but me and my friends are all happy and excited to prepare our dinner for Christmas Eve (Brazilians usually celebrates Christmas on Dec 24th at night). To go along with the holiday spirits, I have decided to talk about some Canadian Christmas traditions that I’ve observed. Some are very similar to Brazil’s and others completely different. I hope you enjoy the post. Leave me a comment if I missed any points!
Having your picture taken with Santa
Visiting the mall and having your picture taken with Santa is one of the biggest traditions here. The malls around the city in Canada are not as heavily decorated as they are in Brazil. This tradition is so popular that it is sometimes necessary to make an “appointment” to see the sweet Santa. If you are looking for a more wholesome experience, you can take you kids to The Christmas Village in Hamilton (neighboring city of Toronto). The Christmas Town is in a park called Montsberg Conservation Area. Or if you have a pet like I do, you can take him/her to see Santa at Paws Way.
Christmas Pajamas and Sweaters
If you take a walk in the malls here you will notice an array of Christmas-Themed pajamas and sweaters on sale. They are all very popular around here. The pajamas are for the Christmas morning when the gifts are opened in the living room and you also can wear your ugly sweater at Christmas dinner with your family. It’s a fun and cute way to celebrate Christmas! I loved it! Talking about that, it is important to remember that the Canadian Culture celebrates Christmas on Dec 25th. On Dec 24th it’s common to see people working till 12pm (generally) and they would either eat out or hangout with their family.
Every year you can join this tradition here in Toronto at Distillery District, in the famous Toronto Christmas Market. The festival offers free entrance during the week and on weekends a fee of $5 may be applicable. The Christmas Market started on November 20th and will last until December 20th, including attractions and events. Beside the Distillery, ever since last year, there is a new smaller Christmas Market close to Dundas Square called “Local Toronto Pop-Up Market” that sells many local products. It is worth a trip there to check this out.
Santa Claus Parade
The Santa Claus Parade is such a big deal for Canadians. It is very traditional among many cities around Canada such as Vancouver, Niagara Falls, North Bays, Saint John, Burlington, etc. and usually highlight the Holidays festivities. This year the Parade had already taken place on November 15th. Unfortunately, I’ve never been to a Santa Claus Parade, but I’d love to! If you did get to participate, let me know in the comments how it went!
Festivals of light and Fireworks
Every year in Toronto we have the Cavalcade of Lights. It is a big light show with fireworks at the City Hall. Important facts to highlight: (1) the event is free, (2) the place gets very crowded early on, and (3) the fireworks are spectacular and definitely much better than New Year’s fireworks. At Niagara, we also have a festival called Winter Festival of Lights, where fireworks and light projection displays are shown.
During Christmas seasons, you will notice that in the supermarkets there are always packages of a tube wrapped into a candy shape in shiny or sparkling wrapping paper. These are called the Christmas Crackers. It is a tradition of England and its commonwealth (including Canada). During the Christmas lunch, Canadians would set these crackers on the table. The cracker has to be pulled apart by two people and the person who gets the biggest chunk gets to keep the little gifts inside the cracker.
Food served at a traditional Canadian Christmas dinner include Butter Tart, Tourtière, Gingerbread House (they are just lovely), Nanaimo bars and some of the food that are typical on Thanksgiving dinner table such as pumpkin pie, turkey and stuffing.
In my opinion, one of the best Christmas traditions in North America is Boxing Day. Boxing Day is a term used to describe the day after Christmas. On that day, massive sales take place and it is easily one of the busiest days for retailers in the country.
Considering Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ (Christian Holiday), I couldn’t forget to mention that the Christmas Caroling is an old tradition among Christians.￼ From a young age, kids would represent this particular tradition at churches and residences during the Christmas season to celebrate the birth of Christ and reinforce the Christian values. Here in Canada, you will notice that there are groups who have the Christmas Caroling in the neighborhood, malls and events. It is also very common to hear Christmas songs on the radio during the whole month, especially on Dec 24th and 25th.
I think is extremely important to reinforce that here, in Canada, we live in a largely multicultural environment and not all of the cultures celebrate Christmas for different reasons and faith. The post was created based on the Canadian culture in general but customs may differ depending on the region and demographics.
I hope you guys enjoyed my post!