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7 Quintessentially Canadian Holiday Traditions

From the late-night feast Réveillon to Newfoundlanders disguising themselves as mummers, there are many unique Canadian holiday traditions.

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Canadian holiday traditions - mummeringIllustration: Jeff Kulak


Since 1819, Newfoundlanders have participated in mummering, dressing up in costumes and masks, knocking on their neighbours’ doors and disguising their voices. Once inside, mummers—also sometimes called jennies—dance and sing while their hosts try to guess who they are.

Discover how carolling brought this small Canadian town together.

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Canadian holiday traditions - Jamaican cuisineIllustration: Jeff Kulak

Jamaican Cuisine

“Jamaican Christmases in Canada are relatively the same—it’s just the food that’s different. Instead of turkey and ham, we have curry goat, curry chicken, rice and peas and callaloo.” —Rapper Kardinal Offishall

Find out how latkes bring this Canadian family together.

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Canadian holiday traditions - Christmas treeIllustration: Jeff Kulak

Tree Gift

After the devastating Halifax Explosion in 1917, the city of Boston sent medical personnel and supplies to aid in the recovery. The following year, Halifax sent Boston a Christmas tree—and has done so annually ever since.

Learn about this family’s funny Christmas stocking tradition!

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Canadian holiday traditions - funny ornamentsIllustration: Jeff Kulak

Crèche Surprises

“I was always adding my own toys to the mix. There was a giraffe fawning over the baby Jesus, and Papa Smurf stood with the three kings… My dad would notice them and yell for me to get them out.” —Author Heather O’Neill on her family’s crèche

Here’s what the holidays meant for this Indigenous community.

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Canadian holiday traditions - French feastIllustration: Jeff Kulak

A French Feast

Réveillon is a traditional feast that starts after church service on Christmas Eve and lasts until the wee hours of Christmas morning. First celebrated in 19th-century France, the Canadian menu includes tourtière, ragoût de pattes de cochon—pigs’ feet stew—and bûche de Nöel.

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Canadian holiday traditions - smorkageIllustration: Jeff Kulak


“A Danish butter cake called smorkage. It’s that heavenly combination of pastry and almond paste. Christmas isn’t Christmas without it.” —Author Esi Edugyan on her favourite holiday treat

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Canadian holiday traditions - kwanzaaIllustration: Jeff Kulak

Kwanzaa Week

In 2018, Toronto dedicated the week between Dec. 26 and Jan. 1 as Kwanzaa week, the first such proclamation for the holiday—a time when the African diaspora celebrates family, community and culture—in Canadian history.

Next, avoid these disasters that can ruin your holiday!

Quotes: (Kardinal Offishall) Huffington Post (December 24, 2018); (Heather O’Neill) Huffington Post (December 24, 2018); (Esi Edugyan) Huffington Post (December 24, 2018).

Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada