Culture and traditions

What are the main customs and traditions of Canada?

In Canada we find different customs that can be strange for other cultures. In this article, we explain the most important festivals and traditions of this bilingual country, as well as the eating and social habits of its inhabitants.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.


Throughout the year numerous traditional festivals are celebrated that attract both the national public and the international public. In February the Winter carnival, in which ice sculptures are made and parades are held. The one in Quebec stands out, where an ice castle is built in which it is located Bonhomme, a well-known snowman.

In the same month it takes place in Rideau Canal, Ottawa, the Winterlude, a festival that celebrates winter. Also in February we find the Grape and Wine Fair at the Niagara.

Between the end of June and the beginning of July the Montreal Jazz Festival, considered the most important in the world. It attracts about two million people.

Jazz festival - in Montreal Canada

July 1 is National Day of Canada, the date on which the country's independence is celebrated with parades, fireworks and shows. During this month the Stampede of Calgary is celebrated, in which tribute is paid to the culture of the Old West.

Also, the second Monday in October is Thanksgiving. During the day, families gather and prepare to eat turkey with cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and apple pie.

Christmas is a very important time in the country and, therefore, since the beginning of December, we can see the streets, shops and houses decorated with the Christmas tree and other ornaments.

Also, light festivals are held in which millions of light bulbs are used, such as in the Vancouver Botanical Garden. On the other hand, the Santa Claus Cavalcade is organized in Toronto, which has over a hundred years of history.

Christmas in Canada

December 24 is Christmas Eve or Christmas Eve. That night comes Santa Claus to children's homes to distribute gifts, which are usually open the next morning. On Christmas day, turkey is eaten as a family, although pork pie is more common in Quebec. Fireworks are frequent, especially in large cities such as Calgary (Alberta) and Ottawa (Ontario).

December 26 is the Boxing day, day on which the sales begin. During this time the Sinck tuck, an Eskimo festival characterized by its dances and songs.

Newfundlands highlights the rare Christmas tradition of mummers, masked people who are making noise in the streets until a neighbor recognizes them and gives them candy. In Nova Scotia, the disguised go from Santa Claus.

Canadians celebrate the arrival of the New Year by going cold, since on January 1, although it is winter, the "Polar Bear Swim" takes place, in which participants bathe in the icy Pacific Sea.

The "Polar Bear Swim": a cold tradition of Canada

Social customs

The people of Canada are open to new people and, due to their immigration policy, they are interested in other cultures. It is even common to greet and smile at strangers.

When you say hello, you shake hands and always keep certain physical distance. They address the other person by their last name, until they invite you to call them by their first name. In the establishments always greets and thanks.

If you are invited to a lunch or dinner, it is important to be punctual and bring a gift, such as a bottle of wine or some flowers. Also, you should take off your shoes at the entrance.

Canadian custom of taking off shoes when entering home

Depending on each region, there are different cultural habits. For example in Quebec, being an area of ​​French origin, they are usually more reserved and formal, and to greet give two kisses.

As for the family, for Canadians it is quite important. They like to spend time together and eat with their children. All family models are respected: single parents, with same-sex parents, etc.

Also, both men and women often work outside the home. However, there is a wage gap between both sexes and women spend more time on household chores and childcare.

There are numerous Famous They come from Canada. They tend to have more glamorous lifestyle habits than the rest of the population. Currently, some of the best known Canadians are Justin Bieber, Celine Dion and Pamela Anderson.

Justin Bieber: a star of Canadian origin

Feeding Habits

In this country you usually eat three times a day: at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The latter is considered the most important meal and is made around five in the afternoon, which is soon compared to other countries.

As for culinary customs, there are differences between regions. Canadian cuisine is influenced by American, English and French cuisine.

Among the typical dishes we find fresh seafood, roast and game meat. The sweets that cannot be missing are the Maple syrup, the bar Nanaimo (made with wafer) and donuts.

Pancakes with maple syrup: a sweet from Canada

You can only get alcoholic beverages in specialty stores. However, typical Canadian drinks are ice wine (characterized by its sweetness), beer and Canadian whiskey.

If you decide to try the food of this country in a restaurant, it is important to know that when paying you should leave a tip of between 10 and 15%. Not doing so is considered rude.

Consumption and purchase

Canadians have responsible consumption habits, as they are aware of the problems of environment. However, they tend to get carried away by products that are fashionable.

The three aspects that are most important when buying a product are quality, origin and price. They are also accustomed to a quality sales and after-sales service.

The consumption habits of Canadians

The prices They are high, due in part to the purchasing power of consumers. Internet purchases have increased significantly in recent years, as well as the consumption of organic products. The official currency of the country is the Canadian dollar.

Folk traditions

Canadian folklore has two very different origins, from which it has inherited its tradition. One is the European current of France and the United Kingdom, and the other the indigenous peoples: the Indians and the Eskimos.

Some come from Europe Folkloric dances like the gang and the couple round, both ballroom dancing. On the other hand, some ritual dances have remained of the natives, as well as myths and legends.

They do not have typical costumes, but one of the most prominent is the Uniform of the Mounted Police, which always goes on horseback and is characterized by its red jacket. Another is the clothing of the natives.

The Canadian Mounted Police: a national reference

Traditions are reflected in some of the festivals that we have already named, such as the Calgary Stampede. However, Canada is a multicultural country due to the influx of immigrants from around the world.


Traditionally, Canadians continue to marry for the Church. At the end of the ceremony, the guests throw rice or wheat at the bride and groom, which symbolize fertility.

The dress of the bride is white. This usually takes the face covered with a veil. It is also typical to wear something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.

Canadian weddings and their traditions

At the banquet, it is common to form a "wedding wheel" or weddding wheel: the guests form two rows and pay a dollar or more to dance with one of the newlyweds.

In the French zone of Canada they have their own customs. The most prominent is the «sock dance«: The single brothers of the bride and groom wear funny socks and dance while the guests throw money at them.

Another tradition of French origin is to meet at the bride's house, then go by caravan to the wedding venue. Cars are beating so people know that a couple is getting married.


Sport is another key aspect of Canadian culture and is very popular among all ages. National sports are the hockey on ice and the lacrosse, which is practiced in summer.

Ice hockey: national sport of Canada

Since they are young, Canadians learn to play hockey, because competitions are held both at school and at the university. The National Hockey League (NHL) attracts millions of spectators every year.

Another outstanding sport is basketball. Although it is not so practiced, it is followed by a good part of the population, especially the competitions of the NBA (National Basketball Association).

In business

The contact between business people is always done with respect. They greet shaking hands and maintaining eye contact. Once presented, the contact cards, which look before saving them.

When there is a meeting, they distribute a folder to all attendees with the topics that will be addressed. All aspects have been decided in advance, so they do not talk about what has not been agreed.

As for the negotiations, despite not being too hard, they need time and patience. They examine each part of the deal carefully, so to reach an agreement it may be necessary to have to make several trips and meetings.

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