Fun times and happy memories!
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.
December is a very festive month in Canada. You can see, hear, and feel the Christmas spirit everywhere. Many students asked, “We don’t have families here to celebrate Christmas with, and stores are closed early. What can we do for fun during Christmas?” Here’s a little guide to help you (based on your budget) spend a lovely time during “the most wonderful time of the year”!
Free or by donation:
Times Colonist 2018 Christmas Lights Map (Drive around the city to see some of the most amazing Christmas light displays!)
Note: Many of these free events are actually for good causes. The donated money all go to charities which then go to those in need. If you can, help support these events with whatever much you can. Sharing makes us all richer!
With a small budget:
Skate with Santa ($2.00 when you bring a non-perishable food item!)
With a bigger budget:
Ballet Victoria – The Gift (featuring one of our many talented students, Davide!)
Victoria has so much more to offer for Christmas! If you’re the artistic kind, try out some of the Christmas-themed workshops around the town to make wreaths and seasonal decorations. If you are into music, there are caroling performances here and there in town. Best of all, organize your own caroling group!
A reminder: If you’re taking the public transportation to get around, it will be operating on a reduced schedule on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. And always remember to bundle up!
When I was in university, I took some Chinese classes. One of the biggest challenges I had was learning how to pronounce the sounds correctly.
As a native English speaker, I struggled to reproduce a lot of Chinese sounds. Not only were the sounds difficult for me to make, but Chinese is also a tonal language. Chinese has four tones: high, rising, dipping, and falling. It also has a neutral tone. The sounds and tones were hard enough on their own. Together? HAH! Even now, I sometimes still have difficulty having correct pronunciation for both sounds and tones.
What really helped me improve my pronunciation was music. Once a week, at my university, there was a Chinese singing class. Each class we would learn and practice one or two songs. It was always fun, and I have many fond memories of laughing with my classmates at our pronunciation. However, as time went on, we found that the songs we learned were actually helping a lot with our pronunciation. To this day, I still remember many of the songs we learned. I also like to practice new songs!
Using singing and music is a wonderful way to learn a language. Here are some of the songs I’ve used before in my classes.
What do you say when you want to scare somebody?
In English, we say “boo”! We think that this is the sound that ghosts make.
Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and witches are just a few of the monsters that we think of on Halloween.
Halloween is a spooky (scary) holiday with a long history.
Many of our Halloween traditions come from Ireland, Scotland, and England.
Take a look at some of the many Halloween customs that we have in Canada!
Wearing a costume is one of the most popular Halloween traditions.
On Halloween, you’ll see both children and adults dressed up in costumes ranging from cute to frightening.
Some people like to plan their costume months in advance!
Children will often wear a costume to school and for trick-or-treating, and some adults will wear a costume to work or to a party.
Sorry, this activity is for children (and some teenagers) only!
On Halloween night, children go to their neighbour’s houses and knock on their doors.
When the door opens up, the children will say, “Trick or treat!”
The neighbour will then give some Halloween candy or another treat to the children.
After, the children will say thank you and continue to the next house.
Now, trick-or-treating in the neighbourhood is becoming less common.
Some parents are worried about their children’s safety.
Sometimes the houses are too far apart.
Because of this, going trick-or-treating at a shopping mall is becoming popular.
Regardless of where children go, they usually end up with a big bag of Halloween candy at the end of the night!
BOBBING FOR APPLES
Bobbing for apples is a very old tradition.
Many apples are placed in a container – usually a barrel.
The container is filled with water.
Participants try to grab the apples with their mouths, and they are not allowed to use their hands.
A long time ago, girls used to put the apples under their pillows.
They thought that if they did this, they would dream of their future husband.
Nowadays, we only bob for apples for fun.
Many people like to make jack-o’-lanterns for Halloween.
A jack-o’-lantern is a pumpkin with a face carved (cut with a knife) into it with a knife.
Originally, people made jack-o’-lanterns to protect themselves from evil (bad) ghosts and spirits on Halloween.
The first jack-o’-lanterns were carved from turnips in Ireland and Scotland, but in North America, we use pumpkins.
Halloween was originally a religious holiday to commemorate (remember and celebrate) the dead.
The modern celebration of Halloween in North America is often not religious.
Instead, we use Halloween as a day to have fun feeling scared.
People like to watch horror movies, listen to creepy (uncomfortable and scary) music, and tell scary stories.
One of the most famous ghost stories is about Bloody Mary, a female ghost.
Legend says that if you say the name “Bloody Mary” three times while standing in front of a mirror in a dark room, Bloody Mary will appear.
Children like to do this activity in a group.
Usually, one person will think they see something in the mirror and scream, causing the rest of the group to freak out (panic and be scared).
I still remember playing this game at my friend’s house on Halloween!
Check out three exciting events for international students in Victoria! Contact us if you need help buying a ticket.
DATE: Wednesday, October 24
TIME: Doors open at 6 PM; event at 6:30 PM
LOCATION: Victoria Event Centre, 1415 Broad Street
TICKETS: FREE for performers; $10 for everyone else
I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. I know I did. I have some family time, some turkey, and some rest. I also enjoyed the orange leaves and grey skies – a typical Victoria fall.
When I first taught overseas (in Mexico), my coworkers often asked me why Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on a different day than Americans. (Canadians celebrate it on the second Monday of October, whereas the American date is the fourth Thursday of November). I realized I didn’t know, so I did a lot of research, but I was unable to find a clear answer.
Some websites suggested it was because Canada is further north, so we harvest (pick vegetables) earlier. Some said it is connected with the arrival of explorer Martin Frobisher in 1578, who gave thanks for his safe journey. Another website I read said that it is simply because the Canadian and American governments chose different dates when they made Thanksgiving an official holiday! So the truth is, we don’t really know.
The American Thanksgiving story of “the Pilgrims and the Indians [First Nations peoples]” is well-known, but Americans did not “invent” Thanksgiving; harvest festivals are celebrated in many different cultures. Thanksgiving is essentially a time to celebrate the harvest and be grateful for the good gifts that we have in our lives – food, family, friends.
It’s that time of year again… the leaves are falling, the nights are cooler, and people all over Victoria start drinking pumpkin spice lattes. Fall has arrived!
Do you like this season? Victoria normally has a very nice fall. Especially in the first few weeks, the weather is often dry and clear; this means blue skies, golden sunshine, and orangey-red leaves. I love it! Soon after, the rains will start to come. The fallen leaves will become slippery, and the sidewalks will be full of puddles – so watch your step!
What do we eat in fall? This is when Canadians start to cook more winter dishes. These include soups, stews, and anything with squash in it. We also like to drink pumpkin spice lattes, gingerbread lattes, and peppermint mochas. Some people complain when coffee shops start offering these drinks at the end of August!
What about fall activities? Well, some people will go camping on the weekend. It is a little colder than in August, but September is our last chance to get out into the forest, so some die-hard (crazy, committed) camping fans will still do it! Most farmers markets run until the middle or end of the month as well, so don’t miss this chance to stock up on (buy lots of) local vegetables.
Orange leaves, hot drinks, and cool weather… have a great fall!
Today is the day that we turn 2.
For most people, 2 is not a big number. “Why are you so excited about a second anniversary?” you might ask. “You’ve only been open for two years!”
But for us, it doesn’t feel like it’s been only two years. It’s been two years of learning new skills, bridging local and global communities, and constantly reaching for our best. We’ve laughed and made great friends and a wonderful family. When we’ve made mistakes, we’ve always gotten back up stronger than before. It’s been a lifetime of discovery, and we’re so honoured that you helped us get this far.
From all of us at REV, and from the best, warmest, and proudest part of our hearts, thank you so much. We’re looking forward to spending year 3 with you!
If you want to come and celebrate with us, we’ll be having a casual picnic at Beacon Hill Park on July 5, from 3:30 – 6 PM. Everybody is welcome! If you’d like, you can bring some snacks or drinks to share.
Hope to see you there!
The sky is blue, the clouds are white, and the sun is golden… summer’s coming! What are your plans?
On Sunday June 17, you can go downtown to enjoy Victoria’s 3rd annual Car-Free Day. On this day, Douglas Street is transformed into a huge pedestrian area (walkers only – no cars) with food stands, craft booths, music, and activities. You can enjoy walking around, or you can volunteer. (PS – It’s also Father’s Day in Canada, so don’t forget to call your Dad!).
Here is the website: https://www.carfreeyyj.ca/
Credit: Car Free YYJ Official Photographer
Click below to find out more about fun activities in Victoria this summer!
Our students have plenty of chances to use English while playing games. We notice a lot of improvement because they get to practice a lot in front of teachers!