Top 10 Canadian Christmas Traditions
Merry Christmas! Joyeaux Noel!!
Canada is not only a bilingual country (English and French) but it is also multi-cultural, so winter holidays celebrated here are as diverse as the many cultures of the people who live here.
But if you’re wondering what an authentic Canadian Christmas is like, here are 10 Canadian Christmas Traditions you may want to know:
1. Send Christmas Cards
Starting in December, many Canadians send Christmas Cards to their friends and relatives. The pictures on the cards can be plain, glittery, artistic, traditional, modern or comical. Most have wishes for a happy Christmas printed inside the card while others are left blank for the sender to write their own personalized message.
2. Write Letters to Santa
Before Christmas, Canada Post has a special address where children can mail their letters to Santa Claus (be sure to include a return address):
North Pole, Canada
Both Santa and his Postal Elves reply to each and every letter he
3. Look at Christmas Lights
Canadians enjoy viewing Christmas lights and in Edmonton, Alberta, there is an area dedicated
to viewing Christmas Lights called “Candy Cane Lane” (https://yegcandycanelane.com/ ).
Spreading over a few city blocks, practically every home owner has created an elaborate light display for all to enjoy, including bonfires, sleighrides, and carolling, all free of charge however, a donation to the Edmonton Food Bank in one of the many bins set up along the route is most appreciated.
If you would like to have your city or town’s Christmas light display
mentioned in our blog, please add it in the comments below and
be sure to include it here.
4. Christmas Trees
Most Canadians put up a Christmas tree with some opting for a real tree. Tree lots are available in most cities and towns and have quite a variety of trees to choose from. However, some of the more adventurous choose to venture out into that vast Canadian wilderness of ours to get their tree. In order to do this, you usually need to get a permit first. For example, in British Columbia you can purchase one online (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/natural-resource-use/natural-resource-permits/christmas-tree-permits ) depending upon the district in which you want to go before you venture out in search of the perfect Christmas tree. Some of us put up and decorate our trees early, around the beginning of December (or even earlier) while others wait until Christmas Eve to do this.
5. Christmas Eve Celebrations
Christmas Eve begins and Canadian news stations start reporting on Santa’s progress as he makes his way from the North Pole to the homes of Canadians and children everywhere.
In our family, we usually spend a quiet evening at home eating appetizers, drinking some wine and watching Christmas movies. Some Canadians go out to partake in church services while others stay in. Some choose to spend part of the evening driving around or walking with a Hot Chocolate or Mulled Wine touring all the pretty Christmas lights on display.
6. Christmas Stockings
Children and adults hang up Christmas stockings for Santa Claus to fill with “stocking stuffers”. Usually, these stocking stuffers consist of tiny gifts, candies, chocolates and one big juicy orange. Just like in the poem, “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore, the stockings are often hung by the fireplace, but for those of us without a fireplace, a stair railing or even the back of a chair will suffice.
7. Set out Milk and Cookies
Most children set out milk or eggnog and cookies for Santa to eat on Christmas Eve as a thank you for dropping off presents. Some children also leave a few carrots for the reindeer!
8. Open One Gift Christmas Eve
Christmas Trees are decorated and await Santa’s visit for gifts to be placed under them. Some people open gifts and stockings after midnight while others wait until Christmas morning to see what’s in their stockings and open up gifts. My family’s tradition was to open one gift Christmas Eve and then the stockings and other gifts Christmas morning. We usually try to guess each gift before opening it. I seemed to have a particular talent for guessing what was inside so one year, my friend thought she had me fooled for sure as I could not figure out what it was until I decided to try smelling the beautifully wrapped package…bingo! Bath products!!
9. Christmas Dinner
Christmas dinners in Canada are as diverse as its people. Some celebrate a traditional Victorian/North American dinner by having turkey, cranberries, yams, mashed potatoes with gravy and Christmas Cake or Plum Pudding. Others celebrate with a more traditional French-Canadian dinner including Tortiere, which is basically a meat filled pie mixed with cloves and spices and end with Buche de Noel, which is a chocolate jelly roll cake, rolled up to look like a log of wood and filled with whipped crème, cherries, etc. The log is usually covered with chocolate icing and lined with a fork to mimic bark, then decorated with little mushrooms made from meringue or marzipan. And don’t forget the wine! Canada produces its own wines with some of the best coming from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. To help digest that big Canadian Christmas dinner, treat yourself to some of the best Icewine in the world! Canada is home to top award winner Inniskillin (https://www.inniskillin.com/ ) … delicious!
10. Boxing Day
Boxing Day in Canada is usually spent visiting friends and relatives that you missed Christmas Day, going to see the latest movie just released at the Theatre, joining in some outdoor sports or you guessed it… shopping. Visits with friends and relatives often consist of eating, drinking and playing board games. If you’d rather join in some of the outdoor sports, there’s plenty of ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tobogganing, street hockey, jogging, snowmobiling, and hiking.
This year’s Boxing day most of us will be watching our movies at home on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or HBO, visiting our friends and relatives through Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp, participating in outdoor sports such as walking, jogging and running (gotta get those extra Christmas calories off somehow!) and shopping online (https://www.amazon.ca/ ).However, there’ll still be plenty of food, wine and games to go around!
So, there you have the Top 10 Canadian Christmas Traditions!
From our house to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!!!