Christmas Traditions Across Canada
Canada is such a big and diverse country, so it’s probably not much of a surprise that different parts of Canada have their own special traditions and customs during the holiday season. Here are some of the most interesting and unique Canadian Christmas traditions from coast to coast.
Mummering and Belsnickeling
The Maritimes have some pretty interesting Christmas traditions! In Newfoundland, small town residents participate in an activity called “mummering.” People dress up in ornate costumes and knock on their neighbours’ doors saying “Are there any Mummers in the night?" or “Any mummers 'loud in?” When the neighbour opens the door, the mummers sing and dance and then are often invited inside for a hot drink and cookies or cake before moving on to the next house. Nova Scotia has a similar tradition called Belsnickeling where people in small towns go door to door dressed up in funny, Christmas-themed costumes and the try to get home owners to guess who they are.
All the Single Ladies
In some parts of Northern Canada, some people take part in a tradition called a “taffy pull” during the Christmas season. A taffy pull is a get together or party, thrown in honour of the Catholic Saint Catherine, the patron saint of students and unmarried women. A taffy pull is held in order for young, single women seeking relationships to meet and mingle with single men during the holidays. It’s like a Christmas-y version of speed dating!
All About Parades
A big tradition across all of Canada are Christmas parades. Many cities, big and small, hold a Christmas parade annually and the biggest, and perhaps most well-known, is the Toronto Santa Clause Parade. The parade has been held annually since 1905 and attracts over half a million spectators every year, making it both one of the longest-running and biggest Christmas parades in all of North America. Featuring more than 25 spectacular floats, dozens of bands and music acts and almost 2000 marchers, this is definitely a parade worth checking out.
Réveillon in Quebec
A réveillon is a traditional French-Canadian Christmas gathering, predominantly practiced in Quebec, but also by French populations in Ontario and New Brunswick. The réveillon is a elaborate feast that is either held on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve, or sometimes even both! Family and friends gather together for a long night of music and traditional French-Canadian dishes such as tourtière, ragout, la bûche and high-quality wine. The event is called a réveillon, which means “to be awake,” which refers to the fact that the late night feast usually continues into the early morning hours.