Traditional Christmas Greeting: "Merry Christmas" in English and "Joyeux Noel" in French
Location: North America
Tree Type: Cultural
Decorations: The maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island are represented by the lighthouse, trawler, lobster, fish, and lobster trap. The cowboy boots, covered wagon, grain elevator, Mounties and log cabin stand for the prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, while the trillium flower stands for the province of Ontario.
The teepee, igloo, totem canoe, papoose and dolls symbolize the native people of Canada, and the sled, skates, broom, stone and snowshoes represent Canada's popular winter sports. The polar bear, loon, Canadian goose, horse, and moose symbolize Canada's winters. The planes, trains, and snowmobiles stand for the successful transportation industry.
Finally, Quebec's winter carnival is represented by the "Bonne Hommes de Niege," a wreath with three figures called "Good Men of the Snow."
Traditions: Public parks and buildings across Canada are traditionally lit for the holidays at the same moment: 6:55 on the first Thursday in December. This tradition began in 1986 and is one uniting aspect of the country's many Christmas celebrations.
Tourtiore, a meat pie made from pork, potatoes and onions, is served on Christmas Eve in many parts of French Canada. In Vancouver, Christmas is preceded by two weeks of caroling from children's choirs on ships parading through the harbor. The waterfront is decorated with thousands of lights and becomes a festive place for the holidays.
Quebec's Christmas rituals end on January 6th with the "Fete du Roi," the Party of the King. At this party, slices of cake are handed out and family members search for the bean that has been baked into one of them as they eat. The person to find it is crowned king or queen for the day.
Nova Scotia's celebration during the 12 days of Christmas features masked people called belsnicklers who bounce through neighborhoods making rude noises, demanding treats, and ringing bells. It is only when hosts are able to identify the belsnicklers that they remove their costumes, quiet down, and distribute candy to children who claim to have been good during the year.
Santa Claus visits most Canadian homes, though some children do not open all of their presents until New Year's Day. As in many other countries, Christmastime in Canada is a time for cheer and family.