A guide to main holidays in Canada

Updated: Nov 29, 2023 | Tags: Canadian Culture

Canada, known for its cultural diversity and rich traditions, celebrates a variety of holidays that reflect the nation's heritage, values, and the multicultural fabric of its society. From national days of pride to cultural festivities, these holidays offer a glimpse into the Canadian spirit and culture.

National Holidays

Canada Day - July 1

  • Significance: Celebrates the anniversary of the Constitution Act of 1867, which united three colonies into a single country called Canada within the British Empire.
  • Traditions: Marked by patriotic festivities including parades, fireworks, concerts, and barbecues. It's a day of national pride, with the Canadian flag prominently displayed.

Thanksgiving - Second Monday in October

  • Significance: A day for Canadians to give thanks for a successful harvest and blessings of the past year. It's a time for family gatherings and reflection.
  • Traditions: Traditional meals with turkey and seasonal dishes like stuffing, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce. Many also use this time to volunteer and help the less fortunate.

Victoria Day - Monday preceding May 25

  • Significance: Celebrates Queen Victoria's birthday and marks the unofficial start of the summer season in Canada.
  • Traditions: Commonly involves fireworks, parades, and outdoor activities like camping and picnics.

Labour Day - First Monday in September

  • Significance: Honors the achievements of workers and the labor movement in Canada.
  • Traditions: Parades and events focused on workers' rights, along with family activities and the last summer outings.

Religious Holidays

Christmas - December 25

  • Significance: Celebrated by Christians as the birth of Jesus Christ, but also widely observed as a cultural holiday.
  • Traditions: Decorating homes and Christmas trees, exchanging gifts, special church services, and festive meals. Many also engage in charitable giving during this season.

Easter - A Sunday in March or April

  • Significance: A key Christian holiday marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Its date varies annually.
  • Traditions: Attending church services, Easter egg hunts, and family gatherings. Many also enjoy Easter meals, often including ham or lamb.

Good Friday - Friday before Easter Sunday

  • Significance: Commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary.
  • Traditions: Attending church services, and for some, observing a day of fasting and reflection.

Cultural and Provincial Holidays

Family Day - Third Monday in February (varies by province)

  • Significance: Celebrates the importance of families and family life to people and their communities.
  • Traditions: Family-oriented activities and events, such as outdoor sports, winter festivals, and museum visits.

St. Jean Baptiste Day - June 24 (Quebec)

  • Significance: Celebrates the culture and heritage of French Canadians, particularly in Quebec.
  • Traditions: Parades, concerts, bonfires, and traditional Québécois music and dance.

Heritage Day (varies by province)

  • Significance: A day to reflect on the heritage and diverse cultures in Canada.
  • Traditions: Cultural festivals, historical reenactments, and visiting museums and heritage sites.

Other Notable Observances

Remembrance Day - November 11

  • Significance: Commemorates the members of the armed forces who have died in the line of duty since World War I.
  • Traditions: Observing a moment of silence at 11:00 AM, attending memorial services, and wearing red poppies as a symbol of remembrance.

Boxing Day - December 26

  • Significance: Originating from the UK, it's a day after Christmas often associated with post-Christmas sales.
  • Traditions: Shopping for deals and spending time with family and friends. Some also use this day to donate to the less fortunate.


The holidays in Canada are as diverse as its people, each with unique traditions and significance. From national celebrations of unity and pride to cultural and religious observances, these occasions reflect the rich tapestry of Canadian society. They offer opportunities for Canadians to come together, celebrate their heritage, and embrace the values of diversity, respect, and kindness that define the nation.