Christmas Around the World – Canada

Canada is a vast country with people of many different cultural backgrounds, and there are lots of different Christmas traditions there. Indeed, many of the traditions and celebrations come from French, English, Irish, Scottish, German and native/first nation influences.

The Eastern Canadian province of Nova Scotia is known all over the world for its fir and pine Christmas Trees, and most families in Canada have a fir or pine Christmas trees as a result. One Canadian tradition is to send the biggest fir tree, which is grown in Nova Scotia, to Boston, USA because of the assistance given during a disaster known as the Halifax Explosion in 1917. This tradition has carried on for many years. Bostonians always love and appreciate the Nova Scotian Christmas tree. They place this tree in the city and then light it during a ceremony to begin the Christmas season.

Mummering is a tradition which takes place in the province of Newfoundland, more commonly in small towns and villages rather than large towns and cities. It’s also sometimes called ‘Jannying’. People dress up in costumes and knock on someone’s door and say in a disguised voice, “Are there any Mummers in the night?” or “Any mummers ‘loud in?'”, meaning ‘are mummers allowed in the house?’ Then they sing and dance and have Christmas cake and a cup of something nice before moving on to the next house. However, in some places Mummering is now banned because people used it as an excuse for begging.

In northern Canada, some people plan a ‘Taffy Pull’. This is held in honour of Saint Catherine, the patron saint of single women, and provides an opportunity for single women to meet eligible single men. “Sinck Tuck” is another festival held even further north, and was started by the Inuit that is celebrated in some provinces of Canada; it’s a simple celebration that consists of dancing and gift exchanging.

Labrador City in Newfoundland holds a Christmas Light-up Contest each year, where residents decorate the outside of their houses up with lights and often have big ice sculptures in their front gardens. Around the country, many Canadian families also have cookie-baking parties. They bring a recipe for Christmas cookies, bake them and then exchange them with the members of their family. At the end of the party, each family goes home with a variety of different cookies to enjoy over the Christmas season.

Many families of French descent have a huge feast/party on Christmas Eve called a ‘Réveillon’ that lasts well into the early hours of Christmas morning after taking part in Christmas Eve Mass. When people are at Midnight Mass, they hope that ‘Père Noel’ (Santa) will visit their house and leave gifts for children under the tree. The traditional Christmas meal for people in Quebec, is a stew called ‘ragoût aux pattes de cochons’ which is made from pigs feet! However, many people now have a ‘Tortière’, a meat pie made from venison (or pork or beef).

At the end of the Christmas season, January 6th, people in the province of Quebec celebrate “La Fete du Roi”. They bake a cake for the celebration, placing a bean in the middle. Whoever discovers the bean gets to be the king or queen, according to tradition, and tell people what to do for the rest of the party.

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