While many Canadian Christmas traditions are strikingly similar to those celebrated in the U.S., the many diverse provinces have unique takes on the jolly holiday. With influences from Scotland, England, Germany, France, and the U.S., Canadians enjoy a rich holiday filled with family and tradition.
Christmas Trees and Wreaths
For example, the Christmas tree is a decoration found in many Canadian homes. Although it is originally a German Christmas tradition, Canadians love Christmas trees. In fact, the country produces about 70,000 acres of Christmas trees each year. Advent wreaths and Christmas wreaths adorn many homes during the holidays, as well. Canada exports about 1.8 million trees a year, and its residents have enjoyed the tradition since 1781 when, according to the Canadian Encyclopedia, a baroness placed a tree in her home and decorated it with white candles.
Christmas Eve
Children anxiously await the arrival of Santa on Christmas Eve, although some families may wait until New Year’s Day for present exchanges. Christmas stockings are hung with the hopes of being filled with presents and goodies the next morning. Like Americans, many Canadian children believe Santa comes down the chimney and leaves presents by the tree to be found in the morning. Some families do all of their gift-opening on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day.
Midnight Mass
Christian Canadians often attend a midnight mass, one of the oldest traditions in Canada, in which congregants enjoy a variety of worship music styles ranging from traditional organ and choirs to modern worship bands. Many of Canada’s oldest and most beautiful churches are rich with history and offer a memorable atmosphere during the mass. The mass is followed by a large dinner called a réveillon
Typical foods served during the Christmas holidays include:
  • Beef, turkey, or goose as the main dish
  • Tourtière, a meat pie served in Quebec and other provinces
  • Ragoût de pattes de cochon, or pig’s foot stew, served with pickled beets on the side
  • Vegetable and sauce side dishes
  • Puddings, such as rice and plum
  • Doughnuts, pastries, fruit cake and cookies
  • Yule logs which are known as la bouche de noël in Quebec