Browse "Holidays & Commemoration"

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30 Holiday Dishes

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, The Canadian Encyclopedia created 30 lists of 30 things that make us proud to be Canadian, from famous people and historic events, to iconic foods and influential artists.

Editorial

The First Thanksgiving in North America

It has become common knowledge that the first Thanksgiving in North America was held by Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew in Nunavut in 1578. There are those — mainly Americans upset by the thought of having their holiday co-opted — who argue that it wasn't a “real”” Thanksgiving. I would counter that Frobisher had reason to give thanks, and that giving thanks was an important aspect of Elizabethan society, so it would have been a natural thing for him and his men to do.

Article

The Ashkenaz Festival

The Ashkenaz Foundation is a community-based non-profit organization dedicated to fostering an increased awareness of Yiddish and Jewish culture through the arts. Ashkenaz places equal emphasis on the need for preservation and innovation within this cultural milieu.

Article

Celebrating Asian Heritage in Canada

Many Canadians today see our diverse population as a source of pride and strength — for good reason. More than one in five Canadians were born elsewhere. That is the highest percentage of immigrants in the G7 group of large industrialized nations. Asia (including people born in the Middle East) has provided the greatest number of newcomers in recent years. Since the 1990s, Canadians — who once thought primarily of Europe when they considered events abroad — now define themselves, and the world, differently. As former prime minister Jean Chrétien said: “The Pacific is getting smaller and the Atlantic is becoming wider.”

Article

Remembrance Day in Canada

Remembrance Day is a yearly memorial day that is observed in many Commonwealth countries, including Canada, to remember those who died in military service, and honour those who served in wartime. It is observed across Canada each year on 11 November — the anniversary of the Armistice agreement of 1918 that ended the First World War. On Remembrance Day, public ceremonies and church services often include the playing of “Last Post,” a reading of the fourth stanza of the poem “For the Fallen,” and two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. Wreaths are laid at local war memorials and assemblies are held in schools. The red poppy is a symbol of Remembrance Day that was inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” written by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. Red poppy pins are sold by the Royal Canadian Legion and worn by millions of Canadians in the weeks leading up to and on 11 November.

Article

Thanksgiving in Canada

The first official, annual Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated on 6 November 1879, though Indigenous peoples in Canada have a history of celebrating the fall harvest that predates the arrival of European settlers. Sir Martin Frobisher  and his crew are credited as the first Europeans to celebrate a Thanksgiving ceremony in North America, in 1578. They were followed by the inhabitants of New France under Samuel de Champlain in 1606. The celebration featuring the uniquely North American turkey, squash and pumpkin was introduced to Nova Scotia in the 1750s and became common across Canada by the 1870s. In 1957, Thanksgiving was proclaimed an annual event to occur on the second Monday of October. It is an official statutory holiday in all provinces and territories except Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

Article

Labour Day in Canada

Labour Day, the first Monday in September, has been a statutory holiday in Canada since 1894. It originated in the first workers’ rallies of the Victorian era. Historically, workers marked the day with various activities. These included parades, speeches, games, amateur competitions and picnics. The holiday promoted working-class solidarity and belonging during a time of rapid industrialization. Since the Second World War, fewer and fewer people have participated in Labour Day activities. Nevertheless, it remains a statutory holiday. Many Canadians now devote the Labour Day holiday to leisure activity and family time.

Article

Chanukah in Canada

Chanukah (also Hanukkah, Chanukkah, Chanuka, and the Festival of Lights) is the Hebrew word for dedication. In Canada, Chanukah has been celebrated since 1760 when the first Jews were allowed to immigrate. Chanukah in Canada is a celebration for friends and families to gather, socialize, eat, and exchange gifts. It is arguably the first non-Christian holiday that was widely and publicly celebrated in Canada.

Article

Canada Day

Canada Day, observed on July 1st, is a national holiday marking the anniversary of Confederation in 1867, when the British North America Act came into effect. It was originally known as Dominion Day until it was renamed in 1982.

Article

Christmas in Canada

Christmas is celebrated in various ways in contemporary Canada. In particular, it draws form the French, British and American traditions. Since the beginning of the 20th century, it had become the biggest annual celebration and had begun to take on the form that we recognize today.

Article

Chinese New Year in Canada

The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year, is celebrated in Canada and several other countries. One of the largest celebrations for Canada’s Chinese population (consisting of more than 1.3 million people located mainly in Toronto, Vancouver and Montréal), it is also celebrated by Canadians from Vietnam, Korea and Southeast Asia. Although it is not a statutory holiday in Canada, many Chinese businesses are closed or have reduced hours for the occasion. Since 1 June 2016, this celebration has been recognized as an official holiday in Canada.

Article

Toronto Caribbean Carnival (Caribana)

The Caribbean community in Toronto, Ontario, organized this carnival for the first time in 1967 under the name Caribana as part of Canada’s Centennial celebrations. It has since grown into a major summer event, drawing nearly two million people to the city every year. Since 2015, the official name of the festival has been the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, although it is still commonly referred to as Caribana by many.

Article

Mi-Carême

Mi-Carême, Mid-Lent, in French Canadian tradition, is the time when people dress up in disguise and go from house to house asking for treats, singing and dancing in the Mumming tradition.

Article

Christmas Music

Of all Christmas music Handel's Messiah has been the major work most frequently performed during the Christmas season across Canada.