How Christmas is Celebrated in Canada

December 18, 2020 | Nerissa

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"Deck the Hall with boughs of Holly, Fa La La La La La La La La
'Tis the season to be Jolly, Fa la la la la la la la la la..."

All across our country, many families are preparing for Christmas on December 25. 

You might notice some stores are already into the holiday spirit by playing Christmas music such as "Deck the Halls", a song about getting into the holiday spirit by decorating the tree and their home. With the Holly Jolly season coming close, it means that people all across Canada will be participating in some new or old traditions that involve family, friends and, in some cases, even strangers.

Christmas is a holiday that symbolizes peace and festivity. A time where giving love, care and sometimes gifts all represent a true act of kindness. In Canada, Christmas is often celebrated in similar ways across the provinces. The main goal is to spread joy through many traditions.
In the Christian faith Christmas was a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Gifts were brought to him shortly after his birth by three wise men.

Here are some books about the love, care, peace and festivity of Christmas and a family storybook about the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ:

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas in Canada


The Christmas Story


During the Christmas season many Canadians donate toys to special organizations to give to children and families who are in need of some happiness on December 25. Other Canadians donate canned goods and non-perishable items, prepare food baskets or volunteer their time to hand out plates of food in the homeless shelter.


Preparing for Christmas

The beginning of December is usually when people begin getting ready for Christmas by decorating, attending events and family feasts.

Decorating is one of the ways that shows Christmas happiness. Many people decorate their home with lights. Often it is a tradition that is done with loved ones. Cities and towns decorate their streets with lights that form shapes of snowflakes, candy canes, bells and other winter objects.

Christmas tree purchasing and decorating is also a tradition that takes place with loved ones. There are safety rules that should always be followed when deciding to purchase a real or artificial (fake) tree. Regardless of the type of tree that is purchased the end goal is always the same: create a beautiful tree with decorations of your choice. Decorations could be store bought or even hand made. Loved ones take turns hanging a variety of ornaments and sometimes candy canes on the tree. The finishing touch would be tinsel, Christmas tree lights and a star or an angel that would be hung on the very top point of the tree. 

Christmas stockings are often hung in the home, one for each family member. A stocking is usually an empty sock or a sock-shaped bag that gets filled by Santa Claus with small toys, candy and in the olden days, fruit.

Under the tree is where wrapped presents get placed and are opened on Christmas day. Some families may have their own traditions when it comes to opening presents. Some may open one present on Christmas Eve, others may just spend time with family playing games and watching classic Christmas themed television shows and movies such as:


A Charlie Brown Christmas


Frosty the Snowman


Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer


Santa Claus and Children

Santa Claus is a belief that many children that celebrate Christmas look forward to. He is a fictional man who wears a special red and white suit and delivers gifts to all the good children all around the world on his magic sled. On Christmas Eve some children leave a glass of milk and a plate of cookies for Santa to eat when he gets to their house to deliver the presents. Here is a great family story to read about Santa coming to Toronto:


Santa is Coming to Toronto


A long-standing tradition is to attend the Santa Claus Parade or snuggle up at home with hot chocolate and watch it on the television with loved ones. The Santa Claus Parade is a chance to celebrate love, family and joy. Volunteers dress up in winter- and Christmas-themed costumes and march alongside school bands and large floats on a special route through the city. Children get the opportunity to see enlarged, animated versions of some of their favorite characters, sports teams, stores and toys on the floats. At the end of the Parade route is the most special float of them all. In the final float, Santa Claus appears on his sleigh to wave to everyone and give his famous “Ho Ho Ho” cheer.

Did you know that the Toronto Santa Claus Parade is the oldest and largest parade in the world? It started in 1913 and has grown to having over 25 floats and about 2000 volunteers!

Christmas morning means that it’s time for presents to be open. Family members get together to sit around the Christmas tree and open their presents. The morning is filled with love, gratefulness and then gets followed by decorating a gingerbread house and preparations for the Christmas Dinner feast. The feast traditionally has been a roast turkey with vegetables and mashed potatoes. Many people from different cultures prepare their own variation of a Christmas dinner feast.

For Christmas Dinner ideas, check out these two yummy books:


Home Made Christmas


Taste of Home: Christmas


Celebrating Christmas During the 2020 Pandemic

While each of us are trying to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 there are still ways that families can creatively celebrate Christmas with those in your household such as:


By the way….did you know?

A special Canadian Christmas tradition is to send one of our biggest Fir or Spruce trees (grown in Nova Scotia) to Boston, Massachusetts in the United States. This is done each year to give great thanks for their assistance in the 1917 Halifax Explosion. 

Christmas tree
"Big Boston Christmas Tree" by Lynn Friedman. Used on a CC license.