A Different Breed
Every year, as we collectively move past the most colorful season of the year we seem to willfully forget what lurks around the corner. As the autumn leaves grace us with their presence, as we are gifted long, sun-filled days that are accompanied by cool breezes and an incredible lack of mosquitoes. Or as we’re able to comfortably huddle around a fire pit to share stories without freezing or sweating… We Canadians are acutely aware that something else is coming.
The introduction of afternoons that looks like 10:30 pm, morning chills that warrant more than our favorite fall fleece. And finally the first true sign of winter: the snowflakes that seem to sneakily dance around us as we bring our groceries out to the car. Suddenly we’re reminded that our snow tires need to go on, we need to find our trusted wool toques, and that soon we will need to dig our way out of your house. All of this said as we think of the oncoming chillier months we are reminded of some pretty pleasant memories.
Snowshoeing through the middle of town, cross-country skiing for pleasure on the weekends or for necessity throughout the work week, hearty meals, warm sweaters we haven’t seen in months. The reduced need for a fashion sense, and the true profound appreciation for nights spent, cozied up indoors, after braving the elements. Winter is far from all bad and let’s face it you’ve done this before, you’ve uncovered vehicles lost to snowdrifts, and you’ve started fireplaces in wooden cottages. You’ve walked through the channeled winds of a city center while the temperature slid well beneath freezing, you were made for this.
The Spirit of Tradition
Though we Canadians know how to handle the weather, we all seem to have our own seasonal holiday and Christmas traditions. Whether they are unique to your family or have been shared through your town for longer than you can remember. There are long lists of different winter and Christmas traditions that we choose to carry on. Something that signifies the change of the season for me every year is the familiar but strange sight of my father blowing the laneway.
As a Canadian, you know exactly what the term blowing the laneway means. We would love to be able to handle the light and fluffy snow with a couple of shovels and the charm of a hallmark cast, but that’s just not feasible. At times, dependent on the size of the driveway and snowfall we need more firepower, and in this case firepower comes in the shape of a snowblower. The tool is essential to surviving winter in most Canadian cities.
Though all of our neighbors, relatives, and friends also use snowblowers to clear their laneways, my father has, for as long as I can remember, chosen to uphold his own tradition. No matter what the temperature is, or how much snow has accumulated he heads out into the blizzard to handle the laneway. Equipped with one signature clothing item: his short athletic shorts. Whether he does this to get a laugh, to uphold his legacy, or simply to further the stereotypical description of Canadians. He never fails to traipse into the cold, with completely unprotected legs.
Family Christmas Traditions
If you ask any Canadian family about their Christmas traditions they will surely tell you a story about how as children they stumbled across a specific Christmas storybook. A certain type of ginger-infused cookie, or the famed ‘Miracle on 34th Street’. We all have a tradition and an origin for our tradition, but there does seem to be some undeniable similarities and shared traditions across the country.
Foods like Eggnog, shortbread and gingerbread are the obvious links between most Canadian families. But there are some more obscure and interesting practices that seem to happen around the holiday season. Though you might not be able to find a statistic for it, talk to any handful of Canadian families and ask them what kind of takeout they choose to order around the holidays and the answer you might receive is Chinese food. Much like the film A Christmas Carol (partially filmed in Canada), many Canadians seem to have an annual holiday takeout meal from their local Chinese food restaurant of choice. Don’t believe me? Try to order Chinese food anywhere on Christmas eve or New Years’ eve and see how long it takes.
Maybe you have heard of Mummering: a Newfoundland-based Canadian Christmas tradition that involves dressing up in (sometimes eerie) costumes to knock on strangers’ doors and ask the question “Any Mummers Loud In?” Which means “are there any mummers allowed inside?”. After this everyone sings, dances, and shares Christmas cake, and tea before the group proceeds to repeat this at the next house. Like caroling, with a fun and oddly spooky twist, this tradition ultimately stays true to the foundation of most good traditions: a fostering of togetherness and a sense of community. Here are some other Canadian Traditions you may not have heard of.
Canadian Christmas legality
Canada also has a couple of rules you might not expect. Some are enforced by practice and some by law. Did you know that you are not able to give the prime minister a gift? No, this isn’t because you aren’t, or are a fan of the current Prime Minister, but because you can’t give a holiday gift to any Canadian Prime Minister ever. This is thanks to the Federal Accountability act of 2006, which ensures that you can’t even gift a single gingerbread cookie to the Prime Minister or his family. In the past Canadians have tried to share their holiday cheer with the Prime Minister by sending seasonal gifts and have had their gifts returned or damaged. So if you’re thinking of sending holiday gifts this year consider sending them to anyone other than the Prime Minister.
Create your own Tradition
Outside of food, song, dance, and festive costumes Canada is host to some truly great outdoor areas where you can create your own tradition to share with your friends, family, or strangers. Whether you are interested in things to do in Toronto this Christmas like ice skating at Nathan Phillips Square. You want to visit one of the Drive-Through light installations around Ontario. Or you want to check out this very cool ice skating path in Muskoka. There are some amazing places in Ontario to visit this December. From us at GuidED: whatever you end up doing, we encourage you to find ways to experience the outdoors with others and to have a Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday season in Canada this year!