Customs and traditions in Canada

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Customs and traditions in Canada 

 There are all sorts of religions and cultures in Canada, which makes it multicultural. These cultures all have their own unique customs and traditions. For example, Christians put up fir trees and stockings at Christmas time. Santa Clause will then come and give them presents. They also have Easter where the Easter Bunny will come and hide eggs Customs and Traditions for the children to find. And Jewish children have bar and bat mitzvahs at the age of thirteen.  

Even though Canada is multicultural we still share some customs and traditions that belong to all a Canadians. For example, every year we have many non-religious celebrations. Some of these are the Calgary Stampede, Klondike Days, Quebec Carnival, the Maple Syrup Festivals and Canada Day. The Calgary Stampede is held in Calgary, Alberta every year in July and it was originally an agricultural fair. Then they included a rodeo and it evolved into what it is today - the rodeo, rides, games, funhouses and some traditional cowboy things. Klondike Days are held in Edmonton, Alberta every year in July and it has log sawing and rock lifting contests to see who is the Klondike King. “The Klondike” is a river in Alberta that had gold discovered in it 1896.  Klondike Days is to celebrate finding the gold in the river.  The Quebec Carnival is a winter event held in Quebec City every February.  It starts with a show with singing and dancing and through the rest of the carnival they have snow swimming, canoeing through the nearly frozen St. Lawrence River and the crowning of the “queen” of the carnival. The Maple Syrup Festival is held in the spring when people from small towns collect the sap from the maple trees. Some times people can go to the towns for sleigh rides and to see how they make maple sugar.  And last, but not least, Canada Day is the day that Canadians of all different cultural backgrounds celebrate being Canadian.    

Some other customs and traditions Canadians share are their loyalty to the queen and their country’s heritage.  All Canadians learn about their country through school.  We all know that there were first the natives and then the Europeans, but that the Europeans took over because of their advanced technology. 

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions.

     Ceremonial food does not generally differ greatly in content from everyday foods. What distinguishes food in ceremonial settings, such as state dinners, is not the type of food but the amount of food served and the complexity of its presentation and consumption. Ceremonial dinners are often made up of a long list of dishes served in a rigid sequence, eaten with utensils specified for each portion, and presented in often elaborate arrangement either generally, on the table as a whole, or in the particular portions placed on each diner's plate.  

     The same general consideration applies to meals for more private special occasions, such as those marking important religious holidays such as Christmas. The number of discrete dishes is usually quite large, the preparation of each is often specialized and involved, and portions consumed are more often than not greater than what one would consume under other circumstances. These more private special occasion meals often involve entire extended families sharing in both preparing and eating the meal.  

     There is another special meal worth mentioning, the potluck. "Potluck" is derived from the word potlatch, a special occasion of many West Coast First Nations peoples. The potluck involves each guest preparing and bringing a dish to the event, to be shared by all the diners. The key component of this particular kind of meal is food sharing among friends as opposed to food making for family. In general, potluck meals are meals shared by friends or coworkers. They express the symbolic importance of the meal as a part of the moral geography of social relations among nonkin, but distinguish this meal as an act of food sharing rather than an act of food preparation. That is, the potluck meal expresses a sense of community and kindness, while the family meal expresses a sense of service, duty, and family solidarity. 

Canadian christmas traditions

      The influence of Europe in the Christmas traditions of Canada can be seen in the celebrations and the various customs and traditions of the holiday. The midnight mass is the central celebration of French Canadians on Xmas eve, where they display a nativity scene beneath a Xmas tree. After the mass, the family has a huge banquet as part of the Christmas traditions of Canada. Gift-giving occurs on New Year’s Day. 

     For the English Canadians, the Christmas traditions of Canada feasts usually include a roast goose or beef and plum pudding. The homes are decorated with pine bough and kissing balls. They also sing the ancient carols during the period. 

The German Canadians have the Tannenbaum in the place of honor in their homes. The children await the Christkindl, a messenger from the Christ child while the mothers make stolen and Xmas cookies. Xmas trees, ancient carols, gingerbread houses, and advent calendars are part of their tradition.  

The various Canadians of Indian heritage have a different set of the Christmas traditions of Canada for each Indian nation, including gift-giving, feasts, singing, dancing, drumming and games, which were part of their ancient winter celebrations. The Cree children visit the homes of their relatives to collect their gifts. The Inuit hold feasts of caribou, seal, raw fish, and turkey.

     Ukrainian immigrants celebrate the feast of Saint Philip by cleaning their homes, bodies and souls. The Eastern Orthodox religious influences in Christmas traditions Canada blend with pagan agrarian customs. They hold a day of fasting that ends on Xmas Eve when the hold the Holy Supper with twelve dishes. The astrological symbolism is evident in the combination Christian motifs and agrarian practice which are shown in the twelve dishes representing the twelve lunar cycles of the year and the twelve Disciples of Christ. No meat and milk is served with the dishes because emphasis is placed on the field, garden, and orchard during the celebration. 

     Canadian Thanksgiving

     Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October, and is a statutory holiday in all jurisdictions except New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island  

     As a liturgical festival, Thanksgiving corresponds to the English and continental European Harvest festival, with churches decorated with cornucopias, pumpkins, corn, wheat sheaves, and other harvest bounty, English and European harvest hymns sung on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend and scriptural lections drawn from the biblical stories relating to the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot. 

     While the actual Thanksgiving holiday is on a Monday, Canadians might eat their Thanksgiving meal on any day of the three day weekend. Thanksgiving is often celebrated with family, it is also often a time for weekend getaways for couples to observe the autumn leaves, spend one last weekend at the cottage, or participate in various outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and hunting. 

     History of Thanksgiving in Canada

     The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Orient. In the year 1578, he held a formal ceremony, in what is now the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, to give thanks for surviving the long journey.  

     This feast is considered by many to be the first Thanksgiving celebration in North America, although celebrating the harvest and giving thanks for a successful bounty of crops had been a long-standing tradition throughout North America by various First Nations and Native American groups.  

     First Nations and Native Americans throughout the Americas, including the Pueblo, Cherokee, Creek and many others organized harvest festivals, ceremonial dances, and other celebrations of thanks for centuries before the arrival of Europeans in North America. Frobisher was later knighted and had an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean in northern Canada named after him — Frobisher Bay. 

     At the same time, French settlers, having crossed the ocean and arrived in Canada with explorer Samuel de Champlain, also held huge feasts of thanks. They even formed 'The Order of Good Cheer' and gladly shared their food with their First Nations neighbours. 

     After the Seven Years' War ended in 1763 handing over New France to the British, the citizens of Halifax held a special day of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving days were observed beginning in 1799 but did not occur every year. After the American Revolution, American refugees who remained loyal to Great Britain moved from the United States and came to Canada. They brought the customs and practices of the American Thanksgiving to Canada. The first Thanksgiving Day after Canadian Confederation was observed as a civic holiday on April 5, 1872 to celebrate the recovery of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness. 

     Starting in 1879 Thanksgiving Day was observed every year but the date was proclaimed annually and changed year to year. The theme of the Thanksgiving holiday also changed year to year to reflect an important event to be thankful for. In the early years it was for an abundant harvest and occasionally for a special anniversary. 

     After World War I, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving were celebrated on the Monday of the week in which November 11 occurred. Ten years later, in 1931, the two days became separate holidays, and Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day. 

     On January 31, 1957, the Canadian Parliament proclaimed: 

     “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed … to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October.”  

     The farmers in Europe would hold celebrations at harvest to give thanks for their good fortune and the abundance of food. The farm workers filled a curved goat's horn with fruit and grain. This symbol was called a cornucopia or "horn of plenty". When the European farmers came to Canada they brought this tradition with them. 

     In the early 1600s, Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer, arrived with French settlers and also held feasts of thanksgiving called the "Order of Good Cheer." This feast they shared with their Indian neighbours as a token of goodwill. During the Revolutionary War, the Americans who were Loyalists (loyal to England and the Crown) moved to Canada and thus American Thanksgiving celebrations and traditions spread throughout Canada.  

     Thanksgiving Day in Canada after Confederation was observed on April 15, 1872, to celebrate the recovery of The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness. In 1879, Parliament declared November 6th a national holiday of Thanksgiving. Over the years many dates were used for Thanksgiving, the most popular was the 3rd Monday in October.  

     After World War I, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving were celebrated on the Monday of the week in which November 11th occurred. Ten years later, in 1931, the two days became separate holidays and Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day. Finally, on January 31st, 1957, Parliament declared the second Monday in October of each year to be "A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed". 

     Most families in Canada celebrate Thanksgiving with a special dinner for family and friends. The dinner usually includes a roasted turkey and pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to look at pioneer life, and it is an ideal time to celebrate the importance of Canadian farmers for all Canadians and at the heart of the celebration is the idea of giving thanks for the goodness of the season past. 

     Traditional Thanksgiving dinner:

     The centerpiece of contemporary Thanksgiving dinner is a large meal, generally centered around a large roasted turkey and the following:

      Pickles, green olives, celery, roast turkey, oyster stew, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, dressing, creamed asparagus tips, snowflake potatoes, baked carrots, hot rolls, fruit salad, mince meat pie, fruit cake, candies, grapes, apples, French drip coffee. 


     Halloween traditions derive from many countries and have been adjusted by different cultures over time. Some favorite Halloween traditions include children who go trick-or-treating. Young children dress-up in costumes as ghosts, witches and other imaginative things and go door-to-door saying "Trick or Treat", which means either you give me a treat or I play a trick on you. Adults hand out a treat to the children and treats are usually little pieces of candy.  

     Halloween celebrations in Canada began with the arrival of Scottish and Irish immigrants in the 1800s. The Irish have a story about the origin of Jack O’Lanterns who was a man who could not enter heaven because he was a miser, and he was unable to enter hell because he had played practical jokes on the devil. Therefore, he was left to saunter the earth until Judgment Day. Jack walked around with a lantern in his hand, which was a hot coal placed in a hollowed-out turnip, which today is symbolized in form of a pumpkin. 

     The use of witches, ghosts, and cats in Halloween celebrations originates with the Druids. Halloween is thought to have originated among the ancient Celtic Druids. The Druids were an order of priests in ancient Britain who believed that spirits, fairies, witches, and ghosts came out on Halloween to harm people.  

     The name "Halloween" means "hallowed evening" since it takes place before All Saints' Day. The Druids believed that on that evening, October 31 - the day preceding the Christian feat of All Saints Day, the wall between the world of the living and the world of the dead was thinner. Therefore the use of ghosts in Halloween celebrations originates with the Druids.  

     In modern times, Halloween has become a holiday, which focuses on haunted things like skeletons, cemeteries, warlocks and so on. There are many superstitions and symbols connected with the festival of Halloween, celebrated on October 31. The Druids also took part in an autumn festival called "Samhain" or "summers end". The tradition of decorating with pumpkins, leaves, and cornstalks originates with the Druid festival. It was a celebration of the food, which had been grown during the summer.

     In Sweden, Halloween is known as "Alla Helgons Dag" (All Saints' Day) and is celebrated from October 31 until November 6. As with many other holidays, "Alla Helgons Dag" has an eve, which is either celebrated or becomes a shortened working day. The Friday prior to All Saint's Day is a short day for universities while school-age children are given a day of vacation. 

     Canada Day

     [Canada's National Day] Canada, the world's second-largest country (after Russia), is the largest country in the Western Hemisphere and comprises all the North American continent north of the United States... 

     July 1st of each year is Canada's most significant national holiday, equivalent to the Fourth of July in the United States. It is not an official U.S. holiday. 

     Canadians and Americans enjoy a friendly relationship based on geographic proximity, their shared status as ex-colonies of Britain, and a longtime economic partnership. The Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec are favorite weekend destinations for Americans in the Northern states. 

     Due to the combination of French and English language orientations throughout the country, some Canadians have a speaking accent. Canadian culture is majority English, but the province of Quebec is majority French. (There is also a prominent Native Canadian population.) Canadians from Quebec may have conflicting feelings about their designation as "Canadians." In recent decades, there have been calls for a secession of Quebec from Canada, a result of cultural antagonisms that have existed since colonial times. 

     This is not an official U.S. holiday. Some Canadian organizations or clubs in the United States, including the Canadian embassy or consulate, may host events. These sometimes begin in the mid-afternoon, in which case Canadian employees or those with close ties to the Canadian American community may appreciate being given the option to leave work early to attend. 

     Canada Day is a major national holiday. Government offices, banks, schools and many businesses are closed. Some department stores, however, remain open for holiday shoppers. In Canada's capital of Ottawa, streets are closed off around Parliament Hill, site of the main public festivities. In the province of Quebec, July 1 is "moving day," with residents vacating and moving into residences around the province. Accordingly, moving vans must be reserved up to a year in advance and mobility around Montreal may be affected, with streets blocked or traffic slowed on city streets. For residents of Quebec, the French-speaking province, St. Jean Baptiste Day ("Fute Nationale") in June generally holds more significance than Canada Day, which is an English Canadian observance. 

     Background History:

     This observance, originally known as Dominion Day, commemorates the passing of the British North America Act on July 1, 1867, which marked the first step in the process of Canadian independence from Britain. Canada Day events include parades, exhibits with Canadian themes, and the display of the Canadian national flag with its hallmark red maple leaf emblem. The Canadian Prime Minister of Canada gives a speech, and a special ceremony awards new immigrants their Canadian citizenship. The Canadian National Anthem, "O Canada!" is sung, along with the English anthem, "God Save The Queen!" for those with a close connection to their British heritage. The Canadian Mounties, policemen mounted on horses, perform a routine on horseback set to music, called the "Musical Ride." Fireworks are set off over the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, the national capital, and at other sites around the country. 


     Public parks and buildings across Canada are traditionally lit for the holidays at the same moment: 6:55 on the first Thursday in December. This tradition began in 1986 and is one uniting aspect of the country's many Christmas celebrations. 

     Tourtiore, a meat pie made from pork, potatoes and onions, is served on Christmas Eve in many parts of French Canada. In Vancouver, Christmas is preceded by two weeks of caroling from children's choirs on ships parading through the harbor. The waterfront is decorated with thousands of lights and becomes a festive place for the holidays. 

     Quebec's Christmas rituals end on January 6th with the "Fete du Roi," the Party of the King. At this party, slices of cake are handed out and family members search for the bean that has been baked into one of them as they eat. The person to find it is crowned king or queen for the day. 

     Nova Scotia's celebration during the 12 days of Christmas features masked people called belsnicklers who bounce through neighborhoods making rude noises, demanding treats, and ringing bells. It is only when hosts are able to identify the belsnicklers that they remove their costumes, quiet down, and distribute candy to children who claim to have been good during the year. 

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There are all sorts of religions and cultures in Canada, which makes it multicultural. These cultures all have their own unique customs and traditions. For example, Christians put up fir trees and stockings at Christmas time. Santa Clause will then come and give them presents. They also have Easter where the Easter Bunny will come and hide eggs Customs and Traditions for the children to find. And Jewish children have bar and bat mitzvahs at the age of thirteen.
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