How do they celebrate Christmas in Canada?

Many thanks to Karen Percy for today’s guest post.

There are a lot of similar Christmas traditions between Canada and the UK. To get ready for the big event, we’ll put up the tree we just bought from a Christmas tree farm, or better yet, cut one down ourselves at the U-Cut. Almost every house on the block will be covered with lights from top to bottom and you may hear carollers in the street. Christmas Eve, some will attend a church service and, once home, the kids will be giddy and excited, with some being allowed to open just one gift before bedtime. They leave out cookies that mom baked for a cookie exchange or at a cookie-baking party and milk for Santa with a side of carrots for the reindeer.

Christmas morning, the kids are up early, typically opening stocking gifts first with presents to follow. After all has been opened, a breakfast or brunch of eggs, bacon (here called streaky bacon), waffles, and/or pancakes or, our favourite, Christmas Morning Wifesaver will be enjoyed.

Playtime and dinner preparation fill the rest of the day until it’s time for dinner. As in the UK, we all end up with a belly full of turkey smothered in cranberry sauce, mashed potato, and green beans. Christmas dinner will be eaten either on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or Boxing Day, (or all three if you’ve got lots of family to visit). You’ll also find stuffing at our tables, but not the pork-sage-bread crumb ball kind. Instead, you’ll find Canadian turkeys traditionally stuffed with a cubed bread-celery-sage type stuffing. Loads of rich, thick gravy will be poured on top. For pre-dinner drinks, you’ll find adults sipping glasses full of rum and eggnog as they admire the gingerbread houses carefully decorated by the kids. And you won’t find mince pies, Christmas pudding or fruit cake for dessert on Canadian tables. Rather, we opt for plates showcasing a variety of goodies like nanaimo bars, sugar cookies, molasses cookies, and lemon bars, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll find Cornflake Candy Cane Ice Cream, a concoction of candy cane ice cream covered with a mixture of Cornflakes, brown sugar, nuts, butter and coconut. While not traditional, it has been a family favourite in our house for years.

The rest of the time is spent with family and friends, with some holding an Open House where loved ones can just drop in throughout the day. In our neighbourhood, we would take the party from one house to the next, each house serving different food and tasty cocktails whilst the kids are at home enjoying their new toys, babysat by one of the local older kids who make a fortune for the happy party parents upon collection. Boxing Day is a different story. It’s similar to Black Friday in the States where products are heavily discounted. Some camp out and wait for hours for the stores to open so they can get the best deals.

You can find Karen at Kaper Creative

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