What Do People Do?
Many Canadians have a day off work on December 25 and many spend the day with close relatives or friends. It is customary to exchange gifts, enjoy a special festive meal and, perhaps, attend a special church service. However, some people, particularly in Quebec, do some or all of these things on Christmas Eve as well as, or instead of, on Christmas Day.
The traditions centred on Christmas gifts in Canada vary a lot between families. In some families, a mythical figure called Santa Claus brings gifts. He travels on a sleigh pulled by reindeer, enters homes via the chimney and leaves presents and candy in Christmas stockings or in a pile under the Christmas tree. In other families, individual members exchange carefully selected gifts. Popular gifts are toys, games and candy for children and clothes, music, alcohol and practical or luxury items for adults. Canadians may open their presents on Christmas Eve after a special church service or during the morning or after lunch on Christmas Day.
Some people consume large quantities of food and drinks on Christmas Day. The day may start with a cooked breakfast, such as ham and eggs or pancakes. Dinner is often a very large meal with a stuffed or dressed roast turkey, potatoes, a selection of vegetables and cranberry sauce and gravy to add flavor. Popular desserts include pumpkin pie and plum or Christmas pudding. During the day, many types of sweet and savoury snacks are served, including candy, oranges or mandarins, nuts and butter tarts or shortbread.
Many Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth in Bethlehem on December 25, although the true date and year of his birth is unclear. The tradition of celebrating his birth at the end of December may come from the widespread European tradition of celebrations around the winter solstice. Christians who follow the Eastern Orthodox tradition celebrate the birth of Jesus on January 7, while it is marked on January 6 by the Armenian Apostolic Church.