Canadian Christmas traditions blend many European traditions based on the cultures that moved to the area over several centuries. From Nova Scotia and its Scottish influences to Quebec and its French traditions, a Canadian Christmas is both unique and familiar.
European and Native Traditions
Following French culture, Quebec places a high importance on crèches, or nativity scenes in the homes. Families attend midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, and the Christmas feast, "le reveillon," features traditional favorites such as turkey, pastries and meat pies.
Canadians of English and Scottish descent practice Christmas traditions that recall British culture, especially regarding food. Roast goose and plum pudding are common, as are chocolates, pastries and bread and cheese.
Canada is home to a large population of Inuit and other First Nations people. The Inuit hold a Christmas festival known as "sinck tuck." This winter festival is held at Christmastime, where exchanging gifts, dancing and feasting is popular.
Santa in Canada
The personification of the Christmas spirit differs between English-speaking Canadians and French-speaking Canadians. Santa Claus visits English-Canadian children and delivers presents to be opened on Christmas Day.
French-Canadian children receive gifts from parents on Christmas Eve, and Pere Noel visits in the night to leave more. In some French-Canadian homes, children open the presents in their stockings on Christmas Day and wait until New Year's Day to open the big presents.
Other Canadian Christmas Traditions
Christmas in Canada almost always means snow, so many families center Christmas activities on outdoor fun. Sledding, skiing, ice-skating and just playing outside are common activities during the holiday.
Many of Canada's Christmas traditions can also be traced back through immigrants bringing various customs to a new home: Christmas trees and advent calendars from Germany, lighted windows from Ireland, mummers (costumed singers) from Scotland, Santa Claus from the US and of course the contributions of the French and English settlers. Christmas in Canada is a blend of different cultural backgrounds coming together to create special holiday traditions.
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