Holidays and Festivals-Canada

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Statutory holidays across Canada

Name Date Comment
New Year's Day January 1st Many people attend parties and dances on New Year's Eve. It is traditional to wear party hats and to sing "Auld Lang Syne" at the stroke of midnight. Several cities put on fireworks at midnight.
Good Friday Friday before Easter Good Friday is a statutory holiday in all of Canada's provinces and territories. In Québec employers have the option of giving their employees a paid holiday on Good Friday or on Easter Monday.
Canada Day July 1st In Newfoundland, Memorial Day, which commemorates the losses of Newfoundlanders in the Battle of the Somme in World War I, is celebrated simultaneously with Canada Day.

In Québec, leases traditionally are a year long and start on July 1st. So many people move house on this day that it is known in Québec as Moving Day.

Labour Day First Monday of September In many jurisdictions, the school year starts right after this holiday. Many families consider the Labour Day Long Weekend to be the "last fling" of summer, and they try to get away for one last outdoorsy weekend.
Christmas Day December 25th Most families decorate Christmas trees in their living rooms and also decorate the exteriors of their houses with lights, starting in early December. On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus delivers presents that children open on Christmas Morning. Most families have a big roast dinner on Christmas Day. By far the most popular meat is turkey, but some families roast ham or a different bird, such as duck or goose. Families with roots in some European countries have their big Christmas Dinner and exchange of gifts on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day.

Widely celebrated national holidays

Name Date Comment
Easter Monday Day after Easter In Québec employers have the option of observing the statutory holiday on Good Friday or Easter Monday.

Easter Monday is a paid holiday in Nunavut and for federal government employees across the country. Otherwise, Easter Monday is an optional holiday that is granted at the employer's discretion. Many employers require their employees to work on Easter Monday.

Victoria Day Monday preceding May 25th Official celebration of the Sovereign's birthday.

It is a statutory holiday in Alberta, British Columbia (BC), Manitoba, Northwest Territories (NWT), Nunavut, Ontario, Québec, Saskatchewan and Yukon.

It is not a statutory holiday in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island (PEI).

In Newfoundland, Commonwealth Day is celebrated simultaneously with Victoria Day.

In Québec National Patriots Day is celebrated simultaneously with Victoria Day.

Thanksgiving Day Second Monday of October It is a statutory holiday in Alberta, BC, Manitoba, Newfoundland, NWT, Nunavut, Ontario, Québec, Saskatchewan and Yukon.

It is not a statutory holiday in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI.

That said, even in the provinces in which it is not a statutory holiday, many employers give their employees a paid day off work.

Canadian families gather to eat a turkey dinner, just as Americans do on their Thanksgiving holiday on the fourth Thursday of November.

Although Canadian Thanksgiving has been conflated with the American harvest festival of the same name, the origin of the Canadian holiday was the recovery of the then-Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness in 1872.

Remembrance Day November 11th It is a statutory holiday for federal civil servants and for everyone in Alberta, BC, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, NWT, Nunavut, PEI, Saskatchewan and Yukon. In Nova Scotia, Remembrance Day falls under the Remembrance Day Act and is somewhat different from the five statutory holidays the province has. See:

In Manitoba, Remembrance Day is not a statutory holiday, but legislation requires the compulsory closing of all businesses, with some specified exceptions.

In some of the jurisdictions in which Remembrance Day is a statutory holiday, employers can require employees to work on November 11th, but give them another paid day off work in lieu of Remembrance Day. Several companies give their employees December 27th instead of November 11th.

It is not a statutory holiday in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Ontario and Quebec.

Christmas Eve December 24th It is a widespread custom to let employees (except those in the retail industry) go home around noon without losing pay.
Christmas Day December 25th Christmas Day is a statutory holiday in Nova Scotia.
Boxing Day December 26th It is a statutory holiday in Newfoundland, Nunavut and Ontario, for employees of the Saskatchewan government, and for federal government employees across the country.

Elsewhere it is an optional holiday, granted at the employer's discretion.

It is common for employers to grant a paid holiday on Boxing Day. The most notable exception is the retail industry. There are many post-Christmas sales on this day.

Provincial holidays

Name Date Comment
Bank Holiday January 2nd Province of Québec. Not a statutory holiday, but a traditional holiday. Banks are closed in Québec.
Family Day/Louis Riel Day Third Monday of February A statutory holiday across Alberta.

A statutory holiday in BC (formerly the second Monday, was moved to the third to match the rest of Canada as of 2019)

A statutory holiday for employees of the Saskatchewan government and also a holiday for bank employees in Saskatchewan.

A statutory holiday in Manitoba, where it is called Louis Riel Day

A statutory holiday in Ontario.

Note that in Alberta schools are closed for the Alberta Teachers' Association Covention on the preceding Thursday and Friday, making for a five-day weekend for school children. Many Alberta families use the opportunity to drive to the mountains for a skiing break and some even fly further afield to a tropical destination for a few days.

Heritage Day Friday before the last Sunday in February Yukon.

It is not a statutory holiday, but banks are closed in the Yukon.

St. Patrick's Day March 17th Newfoundland
St. George's Day April 23rd Newfoundland
National Aboriginal Day June 21st Northwest Territories
St. Jean-Baptiste Day June 24th Québec

While it is an official holiday in the Province of Québec, the day is significant to Francophones in the rest of Canada and even in the United States, as they regard St. John the Baptist as their patron saint.

Discovery Day June 24th Newfoundland
Nunavut Day July 9th Nunavut
Orangememen's Day July 12th Newfoundland
Various names First Monday of August It is a statutory holiday in BC, Manitoba, New Brunswick, NWT, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan.

The provinces and territories that do not have a holiday on this day are Newfoundland, Québec and Yukon.

In Alberta and Ontario, it technically is an optional holiday, granted at the employer's discretion. However, most Alberta and Ontario employers, outside of the hospitality and retail sectors, do grant a paid holiday.

Most of Nova Scotia celebrates Natal Day on the first Monday of August. In Halifax the date of the holiday varies from year to year, but usually is celebrated in July or August.

Discovery Day Third Monday of August Yukon
Floating holiday Employer's choice of date Newfoundland

Popular celebrations

Name Date Comment
Chinese New Year Late January or early February Is celebrated in parts of Canada where there are large concentrations of Chinese immigrants, most notably Vancouver. It is not an official holiday, but is a general cause for merriment. People shout 'Kung Hei Fat Choi' to each other, there are fireworks, there are parades featuring dragons, and people distribute candy (sweets).
Groundhog Day February 2nd People check what the groundhog does when he comes out of his hole. The superstition is that if the groundhog's shadow frightens him back into his hole, there will be another six weeks of winter. If he doesn't see his shadow, spring will arrive soon.

The groundhog's name differs from place to place. In Pennsylvania they have Punxsutawney Phil, in Ontario they have Wiarton Willy, and in Alberta they have Balzac Billie and Airdrie Al.

Valentine's Day February 14th A day to give your sweetheart a bunch of roses, a box of chocolates, a romantic dinner or, at a minimum, a card.

New comers may be surprised to find out the extent to which Hallmark has cashed in on the occasion. There are Valentine's cards for practically everyone in one's life, including one's grandparents.

In the very early grades at school, specially kindergarten, it is customary for a child to give every classmate some sort of token, perhaps a little card with a chocolate or candy (sweet) attached. The safest thing to do is to make enquiries about what is customary at your child's school.

Daylight Savings Time begins Second Sunday in March Not really a holiday or celebration, but a useful date to be aware of.
St. Patrick's Day March 17th A public holiday in Newfoundland. Elsewhere a day for the wearing 'o the green and going out for beers after work.
Shrove Tuesday Day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent Traditionally Protestant countries in Europe have celebrated Shrove Tuesday as Pancake Day and Catholic countries have celebrated it as Carnival or Mardi Gras. Shrove Tuesday is not celebrated uniformly across Canada. However, it is found here and there in various guises. Pancakes traditionally are served in Newfoundland. Mardi Gras has morphed into various winter festivals. The most exuberant one is Ottawa's Winterlude, which takes place over three weekends in February.
Easter The Sunday following the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox Children receive chocolate eggs from Easter Bunny. Some Canadians, such as those of Ukranian ancestry, paint elaborate patterns on eggs.

In most jurisdictions it is not a statutory holiday, so retail stores typically observe Sunday shopping hours.

April Fool's Day April 1st A day on which people traditionally play tricks on each other.
Mother's Day Second Sunday of May Newly arrived Britons sometimes ask why it isn't in March, as it is in the UK. The likely reason is that in most of Canada March is still cold.
Father's Day Third Sunday of June
Stampede Parade First Friday after July 1st Calgary, Alberta only. Most downtown businesses give their employees the morning of the Stampede Parade off with pay. A large part of downtown is closed to vehicular traffic for the morning, although the C-Train still runs.
Regatta Day First Wednesday in August St. John's, Newfoundland only. Most businesses and government departments give their employees a paid holiday.
Halloween October 31st Kids dress up in costumes and go "trick or treating" in the evening. It is customary to stock up with candy (sweets) to hand out to the trick or treaters who come to one's door. In the prairie provinces it is essential to provide one's child with a costume that is large enough to fit over a snowsuit. Although there may be pleasant "Indian Summer" weather through most of October, it is common for an Arctic front to blow in and drop temperatures just in time for Halloween.
Daylight Savings Time ends First Sunday of November Not really a holiday or celebration, but a useful date to be aware of.
Guy Fawkes November 5th This festival is celebrated with bonfires in Newfoundland, but is largely unknown in much of the rest of Canada.

Government websites

Government websites that list statutory holidays for Canada and for the provinces and territories are as follows: