Canada has embraced you. Now it’s time to return the embrace.
One of the most fun ways to learn about a country and have some fun is to celebrate its holidays — and there are plenty of Canadian traditional celebrations to take part in. Here’s how you can join in on the celebrations.
1. Victoria Day – May 24
Victoria Day, celebrated on May 24 (or the preceding Monday), was originally instituted in honour of Queen Victoria’s birthday and is now Canada's official birthday celebration for the current queen. Celebrations include:
- Federal celebrations: The Union Jack (the United Kingdom’s flag) is flown side by side with the Canadian flag, sunrise to sunset at all federal buildings. A 21-gun salute is fired in the capital, Ottawa, and in every provincial capital at noon.
- Street celebrations: Parks, outdoor restaurants and tour operators treat Victoria Day as the start of summer. Go biking with the kids and gorge on summer salads and barbecues. Many cities celebrate Victoria Day with free fireworks displays.
2. Canada Day – July 1
Canada Day marks the union of the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada into a single country called Canada under the British Empire on July 1, 1867.
In 1982, the Canada Act declared the day as the “nation’s birthday” and a federal statutory holiday.
- Flag: Wear the Canadian colours and put on flag pins, maple leaf sticker tattoos, caps and face-paint. Join a parade in your patriotic gear or watch proud new Canadians at a public citizenship ceremony. You can even enjoy a free concerts — or put one on yourself by singing “O Canada” at the top of your lungs. End the day watching spectacular free firework displays!
- Poutine: It’s a day to try some quintessential Canadian treats — like poutine topped with cheese curds and beef gravy (some outlets may serve chicken or vegetarian gravy options) or pancakes with maple syrup. Celebrate modern Canada’s diversity by sampling global cuisines at food stalls.
3. Thanksgiving Day – October
Thanksgiving in Canada falls on the second Monday of October (unlike the U.S., where it’s on the fourth Thursday of November) to offer gratitude for a good harvest and the year’s blessings.
Thanksgiving is a good time to take a break. Students at university travel home for the long weekend, and families and friends get together. A huge feast with a roast turkey as the centrepiece, cranberry sauce, stuffing and pumpkin pie is traditionally enjoyed.
4. Halloween Day – Oct. 31
Also known as All Saints Eve, Halloween falls on Oct. 31 and is very popular with most kids and teenagers.
- Trick-or-treating: Dress up your kids in costumes and accompany them as they go trick-or-treating with friends in the neighbourhood.
- Decorate: Do up your home like a haunted house with cobwebs and pumpkin lanterns (called jack-o’-lanterns). Be sure to have packs of candy for visiting trick-or-treaters!
- Halloween: Make a pumpkin loaf, cookies or cake in spooky shapes.
Share more celebration ideas with us in the comments section below.