Canada is a multicultural country. We celebrate so many different holidays, from Diwali to Lunar New Year to Eid. We also celebrate Christmas, the biggest holiday of the year. Some people and businesses start to prepare months in advance. Thinking about the perfect gift for a loved one can be a stressful experience and some people take months to decide. Sometimes you’ll even see Christmas decorations in July!
But what do Canadians do to celebrate Christmas? We all have ideas of Christmas. We think of snow, Santa Claus, Christmas trees, a hot fireplace, turkey and roast beef, and Christmas lights. However, not every Canadian family has the same Christmas traditions. Some families might not celebrate at all, while others go all out in their traditions.
Here are some Christmas traditions that are familiar to many families across Canada.
Singing Christmas Carols
Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…
There are some special songs that we like to sing for Christmas. We call these songs “Christmas carols”. Christmas carols are often sung in a group, but many people like to sing them on their own as well. Christmas carols help people feel like they’re part of a community, and many Canadians have fond memories of singing with their friends and family.
Despite its name, gingerbread is a type of cookie, not a type of bread. It’s a comforting cookie filled with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. You’ll often see gingerbread shaped like people or houses during the holiday season. People like to decorate gingerbread cookies with candies and icing. If you’re interested in checking out some amazing gingerbread houses, there is the Gingerbread Showcase happening at the Parkside Hotel until January 2.
Putting up Christmas Decorations
Another common Christmas tradition is decorating a pine tree. We hang ornaments and lights on the tree and put presents underneath. Many people also like to put up Christmas lights on the outside of their houses or put Christmas wreaths on their doors. Families will hang Christmas stockings, typically above their fireplace – if they have one. Common decorations and symbols include pine cones, snowflakes, pine tree branches, and the colours red and green.
Sending Christmas Cards
If you’re at the store during the Christmas season, you’ll likely have seen boxes of colourful Christmas cards. Some Canadians like to write messages to their friends and family. Usually these messages thank the person for the past year and wish them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Leaving Snacks for Santa
Santa needs to eat, too! Families with young children will often leave out a snack by the Christmas tree or chimney for Santa Claus. The traditional snack is a plate of cookies with a glass of milk, but some families are starting to leave out healthier options. The snack is a sort of “thank you” for working hard to deliver Christmas presents around the world.
The tradition of exchanging gifts for Christmas is a common activity around the world, but it’s especially popular in Canada and America. Shopping for gifts can be a fun experience, but only if you don’t have many people to shop for and if you have enough time to do your shopping. If not, then Christmas shopping can be a very stressful time. It is common to give gifts to all of your close family and friends, so Christmas can be a very expensive time for people. We often call this time of year “the season of giving”. People also like to donate to charities and give extra help to people in need during this time.
Eating Christmas Dinner
In most western countries, Christmas is a family holiday. Christmas dinner is one of the biggest highlights. Christmas dinners are usually attended by friends, family, and special guests (like a homestay student!), and the number of guests can range from a single person to more than 30 people. Whoever is in charge of preparing the dinner will spend most of the day getting the meal ready. Here are some common dishes and drinks you will find at Christmas dinner:
- Mashed or baked potatoes
- Brussel sprouts
- Turkey, roast beef, or ham
- Cranberry sauce
The best thing about Christmas is that there’s always the opportunity to create your own personal traditions. Some people like to see No two families are the same, so whatever you do, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Do you celebrate Christmas? We’d love to hear your experience!