By now you’ve likely seen all the sparkle and jazz that is the holiday season. Walk into any retail store and you’ll hear one of the many popular pop Christmas albums – whether it’s Bublé, Bieber, or perhaps a classic, like good ol’ Frank. Take a drive down any residential street and you’ll see the twinkling outdoor displays of festive lights, either frantically put up at the last minute, or, never taken down from the year before. Either way, there’s no denying that the season is upon us – ready to make everyone festive, merry, and bright.
In honour of the approaching holidays, we thought we’d do a little digging into Canada’s Christmas past, present, and future and unearth some interesting facts from around the nation.
There is a Christmas Capital of Canada
If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, then you probably know which city we are talking about. Here are a few clues. Located in the center of Canada, this capital is guaranteed a white Christmas nearly every year. In addition, it has one of the most famous frozen rivers in the world and endless winter activities for enthusiasts to pursue. Whether it’s outdoor ice skating, cross country skiing, sleigh rides or world-famous holiday celebrations – yup, you guessed it, Winnipeg has the seasonal spirit in spades.
A Québec Tradition
People around the world are split on whether the custom of opening gifts should happen at midnight or in the morning, but in Quebec, the practice of réveillon makes the decision easy. The French word to ‘wake-up’, réveillion is the custom of having a Christmas meal after Midnight Mass. Festive delights include Sucre a La Crème (Cream Fudge), Buche De Noel (Yule Log), Tarte au Sucre (Sugar Pie) and Tourtiere (Meat Pie). For réveillon, families often take an afternoon nap on Christmas Eve to prepare for the late night/morning festivities that follow. Upon their return home, they are welcomed by a warming traditional buffet of comfort food followed by festive caroling, dancing, and plenty of mulled wine and cider.
Sounds like a delicious way to celebrate the season to us!
12 Days of Christmas in Nova Scotia
Christmas caroling is popular in many places around the world, but in Nova Scotia, they do things a little differently. During the 12 days of Christmas, kids add a theatrical element to the fun by dressing in costumes and masks, disguising their voices and singing and dancing for their audience. If the host can’t guess their identities, they then are obligated to join in on the caroling fun. The best part, however, are the fun names associated with these festive jokers. Called ‘Mummers’ or ‘Belsnicklers’, we think Nova Scotia knows how to have some serious seasonal fun.
A Citrus Christmas
In Vancouver, there is a special shipment that arrives at the main port every year for the holidays. The shipment, Japanese oranges, is welcomed by girls wearing traditional kimonos in a ritual which, for many, heralds the beginning of the holiday season. A delicious treat (and a whole lot healthier than all that Christmas chocolate), orange you glad that your stocking contains a fruitful surprise?
A Very Merry Hanukkah too!
As a multicultural country, there are many other celebrations throughout the year which bring families together.
This year, for example, the first day of Hanukkah started on December 9th, and many families are well on their way to having some great family fun. Some Hanukkah traditions include the giving of gift baskets to friends and family, and the organization of Chanukah parties, which include singing, drama, and entertaining activities involving the dreidel. Many Jewish Canadians prepare a traditional feast with treats such as latkas (potato cakes), and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts). Everyone also partakes in the lighting of a special menorah known as a hanukkiyah for eight days.
And on the Funny Side of Things…
Though many consider Seinfeld’s Festivus celebration to be a really funny joke, there is a history behind it, and people do actually celebrate it.
The holiday, which was brought to life in a ‘Seinfeld’episode, includes practices such as the Airing of Grievances, which occurs during the Festivus meal and requires each person to tell everyone else all the ways they have disappointed him or her over the past year. After the meal, Feats of Strength are performed, and this involves wrestling the head of the household to the floor, with the holiday ending only if someone can pin down the head of the household.
Celebrated on December 23, this holiday was originally created in 1966 by writer Dan O’Keefe and was celebrated by his family. The purpose of the holiday was to celebrate the season without partaking in its pressures and commercialism.
If you’re interested in trying out Festivus this year, there is a book that you can buy, which is aptly titled, ‘Festivus: The Holiday for the Rest of Us’.
So there you have it, Canada is a country full of fun and interesting holiday traditions and we’re sure that we’ve only skimmed the surface of what’s out there. So if you have any contributions to make, feel free to send us a message. It is, after all, the season of sharing!