Celebrating your first Christmas in Canada?

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    The decorations are out, the lights are up and Christmas music can now be heard in stores across the country – sure signs that Christmas is just around the corner!

    Will this be your first Christmas in Canada?

    While this time of the year can be difficult and sad for those without family here, it is also a chance to create new traditions as part of your new life in Canada.

    Here is what you need to know about Christmas in Canada:

    When is it celebrated?

    Quebec-christmas

    Christmas in Quebec City

    Christmas Day is December 25. This day is a statutory holiday, meaning most people have this day off. Most retail stores, grocery stores, banks and government offices are closed. If Christmas Eve (December 24) falls on a weekday, many people who have to work will leave work early to begin preparations for their family celebrations.

    What do people do?

    In many Latino countries, it is common to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve with a gathering of family and friends, and perhaps a party that lasts well into the night.

    In Canada, many people attend special Christmas Eve church services. It is customary for many Canadians to exchange gifts on Christmas morning, followed by a large meal (typically a turkey) later in the day. Many people do, however, exchange gifts on Christmas Eve to carry on the tradition of their home countries.

    It is common to erect a Christmas tree (either real or artificial) inside the house. The tree is then decorated and gifts are typically placed underneath it until Christmas morning when it is time to exchange and open them.

    Santa Claus is one of the principal figures in the celebration of Christmas. He is a heavy-set, bearded man dressed in red and who is said to travel the world delivering presents to the children of the world. He travels in a flying sleigh pulled by eight reindeer, and enters the homes by sliding down the chimney.

    Food

    Food is a key component of the Christmas celebration, and it is generally a time when diets are put on hold in order to enjoy the many delicious treats that are eaten at this time of year.

    For some families, Christmas day may start with a cooked breakfast, such as ham and eggs or pancakes. Lunch/dinner is often a very large meal consisting of a stuffed roast turkey (or cooked ham), potatoes, a variety of vegetables as well as cranberry sauce and gravy.

    Traditional desserts include plum or Christmas pudding, or possible an assortment of Christmas cookies. During the day, many types of sweet and savory snacks are served, including candy, oranges or mandarins, nuts and butter tarts or shortbread.

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