Christmas and New Year’s celebrations are important to Canadians. They offer a break during the cold, short days of winter. People decorate their houses with lights, green branches and images of Santa Claus. Although Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth, many non-Christians also enjoy the event. Most Canadians gather to decorate a Christmas tree, share a turkey dinner and exchange presents. Québécois celebrate Christmas on the evening of December 24 with reveillon. Families go to midnight Mass and return home to find that Santa Claus has visited. They open gifts and enjoy a large meal together.

Easter, which marks Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead, is an important Christian celebration that has become a general springtime holiday. Many people go to church. Children hunt for eggs hidden by their parents and eat chocolate made in the shape of chickens or rabbits.

Victoria Day is the Monday before May 25. It celebrates Queen Victoria, who was Queen at the time of Confederation. For many Canadians, it marks the beginning of summer. Fireworks light up the sky in the evening.

Canada’s national holiday is July 1. It is a day for picnics and barbecues. In Ottawa, there are concerts and a firework display on Parliament Hill. The province of Quebec has a special holiday, called St Jean Baptiste Day, on June 24. A major feature of the celebration is a parade through the streets of Montreal.

Thanksgiving is a family holiday in the fall. Canadians gather to honour the season’s harvest. Hallowe’en, on October 31, is the time when children dress in costumes and go from house to house, shouting "Trick or Treat". At each home they are given candies, nuts and fruit.

Powwows are large gatherings of Canada’s native peoples that take place during the summer months. Dressed in beautiful feathered regalia, people dance for days to the steady beat of the drums.

Many ethnic communities celebrate their own special days, such as Diwali or Chinese New Year. People from the Caribbean nations celebrate Caribana in Toronto in August. Some institutions close for Jewish holidays, such as Yom Kippur.

January 1 New Year’s Day
Third Monday in February Family Day (Alberta)
March or April Good Friday and Easter
Monday before May 25 Victoria Day
June 21 Unity Day (Original People)
June 24 Fête Nationale (Quebec)
July 1 Canada Day (Memorial Day in Newfoundland)
First Monday in August Civic Holiday (in most provinces)
First Wednesday in August Regatta Day (Newfoundland)
Third Monday in August Discovery Day (Yukon)
First Monday in September Labour Day
Second Monday in October   Thanksgiving Day
December 25, 26  Christmas Day, Boxing Day