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Christmas in Canada

written by: Eric W. Vogt•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 11/5/2010

The Christmas traditions of Canada are inherited from England and France, primarily, but also include the German tradition of the Christmas tree, introduced in the mid 1700s, beginning in Nova Scotia. Learn more in this article and link to further information about the USA's northern neighbor.

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    Christmas in Canada

    Canadians celebrate Christmas in keeping with their cultural heritage, there being two principal traditions -- the English and the French. But the Germans, Czechs and other groups also brought a little here and there, enriching the nation's festivities at this dark and snowy time of year. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Canada is the largest area of the earth under one political jurisdiction.

    The darkness of the time around the winter solstice accounts for why many nations of the higher latitudes in the northern hemisphere understandably love candles and lights in general. Each region in Canada has a few traditions all their own, Quebec being the one that stands out from the rest, due to her French origins. The Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal, with its misse de minuit, or midnight mass, features a children's choir that has added to the worldwide fame of their festivities in this French-speaking province. Among the French-Canadians, the traditions of French Christmas naturally prevail, with the religious services of the midnight mass and the réveillon, or holiday feast, as in their mother country. The gâteau des rois, or Cake of the Three Kings, is a traditional dessert served at the end of the season, at Epiphany, on January 6.

    The Christmas customs of the original French settlers are similar to those of their cousins in Louisiana, in the USA. They make wreaths in the shape of crosses for Advent and the children go door-to-door on New Year's Day to receive presents. In the only officially bilingual province, New Brunswick (an eastern seaboard, maritime province), boys beat the corners of the houses with sticks to bring in the New Year during the Christmas season.

    As mentioned earlier, the Germans introduced Christmas trees in the mid 1700s and the Canadians, eventually adopting a philosophy befitting a responsible sustainable industry, now supplies trees to markets as far away as Venezuela!

    Christmas in Canada is, compared with its commercially-minded neighbor to the south, a bit more traditional in flavour.