Christmas in Canada follows European traditions and some traditions specific to North America, such as lots of Christmas lights and lighted decorations on our houses.
Here in Ontario, we follow principally British traditions with additions from France, Holland, Italy, Germany, the US and some Scandinavian countries.
Of course, I'm talking about the general Christmas culture in Canada and Ontario -- families follow the traditions of their own heritage.
One of the beauties of Christmas in Canada is we have the wintry weather. Snow starts arriving in November and, even if the snow doesn't lie on the ground on Christmas Day, everywhere is certainly frozen and sparkling with ice.
The climate change we hear so much about has reduced the incidences of a truly white Christmas but not ended them.
The long Christmas holidays are prime winter sport time.
And Canada has its own true Christmas carol, not song -- everyone writes Christmas songs, sadly and badly for the most part. Canada's own authentic Christmas carol, the Huron Carol, and was written here in Ontario in the 1600's, probably by Jean BreBeuf a Jesuit missionary in Ste. Marie Among the Hurons.
At the time, Ontario was very much the frontier of New France or Quebec.
Other common Xmas traditions include Christmas cards, sent to friends and relations as well as from stores to customers, and shopping.
Modern Christmas is really all about shopping and stores and malls stay open even longer than they normally do. Most malls and big shops stay open until 10 pm all year, at Christmas that can go past midnight.
I said we follow the usual European/US Christmas traditions, such as Santa Claus, Christmas Trees, holly and ivy, mistletoe, gift-giving, and eating and drinking too much. Roast turkey is the most common Christmas dinner, though ham is usually there too. English-style Christmas cakes and puddings are common, even if they are a little heavy for our calorie-conscious times.
Our holidays are generally an early finish from work on Christmas Eve (Dec 24), Christmas Day (Dec 25), and Boxing Day (Dec 26 for those of you not familiar with the British custom). Today, most people take off time from work to join Christmas to New Year, when we have another day off work, following the Scottish tradition of Hogmanay. Ontario has a strong Scottish bedrock to its culture:-)
Many Ontario towns and cities start the season with a tree-lighting ceremony, which is followed by a Santa Claus parade a week or two later.
These events bring out the crowds, foster local pride and promote the feeling of goodwill, and if it brings customers into the local stores as well, so much the better.
For many communities, a recent addition to the annual Santa Parade is the Christmas Parade of Lights. This is particularly true in rural areas where tractors and other agricultural vehicles are bedecked with lights for a parade through town on a dark December evening.
One unusual Canadian Christmas tradition is tracking, via radar, Santa Claus's journey from the North Pole. His progress is broadcast by TV and radio to children throughout the country. I have to admit I was a Santa Claus skeptic but radar doesn't lie:-)
So if you're considering a visit to Canada in winter, join us on December 25 for Christmas in Canada and stay to New Year and join in the celebrations in our major cities.
And for a hotel in Ontario or anywhere else:
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