Some Canadian Christmas Facts

canachristmas

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 winni winter

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.

tortiereA 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 Christmasjapanese oranges

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!menorah

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…festivus pole

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!

Sandman Celebrates Winter in Winnipeg

Cute Snowman

Sweeping prairie skies, vast fields and cold winters are often the stereotypes that come to mind when people think of Winnipeg, Manitoba. However, there are many other associations Canada’s seventh most populous city is famed for too. For instance, it is called the ‘cultural cradle of Canada’, a ‘cosmopolitan city with an innovative arts scene’ and a place that’s ‘home to a diverse community where more than 100 different languages are spoken.’ Suffice to say, there is a lot to see and do here – especially during the winter season.

Why is winter so great in Winnipeg? Well, quite simply because Winnipeggers are famed for making a big celebration of the season (you don’t get monikers like ‘Winterpeg’ and the ‘Christmas Capital of Canada’ for no reason). A huge part of the city’s culture and environment is shaped by the snowy time of year, and one look at the exciting events lined up for the coming months is sure to prove that.

What’s Happening in Winnipeg This Winter

Winter Fun at The Forks

Yes the prairie fields are abundant here, but so are the rivers. Specifically, The Forks National Historic Site, located at the junction of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers, is one of the most famed river sites in the nation all year round. An integral trading and meeting place for citizens and visitors for over 6,000 years, the site has been a hub for early traders, hunters, settlers, railway pioneers and, nowadays, more than four million visitors annually.

During the winter visitors can enjoy the Arctic Glacier Winter Park with 1.2 kilometres of skating trails, a toboggan run, the skate-through Great-West Life Snowman Lane or the professionally designed Snowboard Fun Park. Just make sure you check their website: www.theforks.com for updates as many of the attractions are weather dependant or are under construction.

Christmas with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

December 7 – December 9, 2012

With tons of performances throughout the season, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra is the perfect place to take in some of the best yuletide spirit in town. If you’re in the mood for some caroling, check out their ‘WSO Pops: Barenaked Ladies – Hits and Holiday Songs’  as one of Canada’s most famous bands performs their hits along with popular Christmas carols.

Festival of Trees and Lights

Since 1988, this event has brightened up Winnipeg by letting citizens and companies decorate trees or wreaths that are raffled off for a good cause. Since its inception, the festival has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities with all decorated trees and wreaths displayed in the centre of downtown Winnipeg.

November 27 – December 9
Festival du Voyageur

February 15 – February 24

As Western Canada’s largest winter festival, the Festival du Voyageur is a non-stop family-friendly event that draws in visitors from around the country. Celebrating Canada’s fur trade history with historical exhibits, shows, and entertainment, this is a distinctly Canadian experience. Held in Winnipeg’s French Quarter, you can expect to see beard, jigging, fiddling, and Louis Riel lookalike contests in addition to snow sculptures, food festivities and more. It’s guaranteed to be a 10-day province wide celebration of heritage, culture and joie de vivre!

Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet

December 20 – December 30

Perhaps the most famed performance for the holiday season, ‘The Nutcracker’ is a must-see for any dance enthusiast. Performed by Canada’s legendary Royal Winnipeg Ballet, you can see the popular fairytale performed by the nation’s best ballet stars.
Whether you’re in the city to visit historic buildings and landmarks, or to experience the diverse and exciting arts scene, Winnipeg is most certainly a must-see winter wonder this season – especially if you’re looking for some snowy fun!

To book a stay a Sandman Hotel & Suites Winnipeg Airport, to see current Hot Deals, room rates and more, click here: www.sandmanhotels.ca/hotels/winnipeg/