Saturday, October 12, 2013

Holidays here and there

Since moving to Canada nine years ago, we've found the cycle of seasons has been marked by a very different calendar of holidays and celebrations.

Back in the UK, the only really festive celebrations were Christmas & New Year (which tended to get rolled together into one long orgy of food and drink) and Guy Fawkes night (which slowly crept from a one-night firework party to weeks of traumatized pets).

Halloween was a recent and not especially welcome interloper, with trick-or-treating seen as an excuse to roam neighborhoods demanding money with menaces.

This side of the Atlantic, we seem to have more excuses to party, and each one has its own distinct flavor.

Christmas here is very similar to Britain. Lots of food and festivities...and ugly commercialization. The big difference is sniveling reluctance to actually use the C word, which I ranted about a couple of years ago.

Halloween is a hugely different affair here, and is a really fun family time. Children dress up, many households make a big effort to decorate, and there are bonfires and fireworks.

Then we have Canada Day, parades and parties all round. And more fireworks.

I was astounded to find Remembrance Day marked here more widely than Britain, with crowds of all generations still turning out at cenotaphs across the country.

Of course, this weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada.

Whereas most holidays are highly visible to anyone wandering through, I think of Thanksgiving as our secret celebration. It's such an intensely personal family affair, marked by gatherings of friends and families behind closed doors and with little outward show, that it's hard for an outsider to see just how big it is.

We've been privileged to be invited to a few Thanksgiving parties here, which were memorable experiences. With no family of our own here it's usually just a quiet turkey dinner for four, but it's still something we've grown to take seriously.

So, Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!


  1. Happy Thanksgiving! I was thinking about it the other day (I have a good friend in Edmonton) and then forgot that it was coming. I hope you have a lovely holiday!!

    And by the way, I think having celebrations is important to a culture- especially non-religious ones and maybe just as important is non-patriotic ones. I love the non-religious bits of Christmas because it is the only holiday that is really celebrated all over the world (or almost). Cheers!

  2. That's Canada for you...any excuse for a day off work and a lot of food lol. Enjoy your turkey day and 'gobble til you wobble'.

  3. Not to intrude on your personal time, but (shhhhh!) Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Danette, that is all so true!

    Delores, I hope you are also having a joyful Thanksgiving.

    Susan, thank you, and it is no intrusion :)

  5. Had to look up the word "cenotaph." :) I don't think I've heard anyone use that word before.

    Halloween sounds brutish on the other side of the pond. Wow. It's always been about children here. And some adult children, too, who try to naughty things up a bit ... if you know what I mean. *wink* My family never celebrated it, though. For religious reasons.

    I don't enjoy anymore our own version of Thanksgiving day here in the U.S., which is about 5 weeks away. Not as I've grown older. As we children have become adults and spread out across the country with our own lives, that day is less and less about family now and more about remembering what once was. So it's a bit of a sad affair. Same thing goes for Christmas, especially this year for me.

    If you have a family of your own, especially with children, I can see how the holidays would be quite special. And there is no denying that, here in North America, the stretch of weeks between October 1st and December 31st is time for some pretty hearty feasting. So in that spirit -- cheers to you and your wonderful family, Ian! Wish you all the best! :)

  6. David, I think the celebration of Halloween got somewhat lost in translation. I don't think anyone over there had even heard of it until ET - that part of the movie mystified me completely when I first saw it, but it makes sense to me now.

  7. Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!! Man... I would love to visit up there!! I'm totally gonna put that on my visit list for next year!



  8. Valerie, good to see you not dead :) Of course I'm not biased, but BC is the best part of Canada, and Vancouver Island is the best part of BC. If you plan a visit and need somewhere to stay, just holler! Seriously.


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