Calendar

Aug
7
Fri
British Columbia Day
Aug 7 all-day

The first Monday of August is known as British Columbia Day, BC Day or B.C. Day, in the province of British Columbia. It is a statutory holiday and gives Canadians in the province the chance to celebrate their achievements or relax with friends and family members.

British-Columbia-Day Church The Steller's Jay is the provincial bird of British Columbia. ©iStockphoto.com/BirdImages

The Steller’s Jay is the provincial bird of British Columbia.

What Do People Do?

In British Columbia many people use the long weekend to make short trips out of town and into one of the areas of beautiful scenery in this province. Some go camping, while others walk, hike or plan canoe trips. As the first Monday in August falls in the middle of the summer season, many people incorporate BC Day into their summer vacation or a plan it as part of a longer trip. In urban areas, particularly in Vancouver, various celebrations are organized. These include firework displays, parades and cultural festivals. Events are held to mark the achievements of people from Canada’s west coast in the areas of sport, technology, cuisine and Canadian-Japanese culture.

Public Life

BC Day is a statutory holiday in British Columbia and many people have a day off work. Post offices and many businesses and organizations, such as libraries, are closed. A few stores may be open depending on the local custom. Public transport services may be reduced or may not run at all. Schools are closed as the first Monday in August falls in the middle of the summer holiday period.

Background

Indigenous peoples have inhabited British Columbia, as described in their oral traditions. There are claims by the English to have explored the region in the 16th century, but it was the Majorcan-born Spanish navigator Juan José Pérez Hernández who did the first documented travel 1774. In 1778 English explorer James Cook reached Nootka Sound and set foot on British Columbian soil. There were several gold finds in British Columbia in the 1850s. The British colonial office responded to this situation by establishing British Columbia’s mainland as a crown colony in 1858, naming it the Colony of British Columbia. In 1871 British Columbia became the sixth province of the Dominion of Canada.

The British Columbia Day Act was first introduced to the Legislative Assembly in 1974. The aim of the Bill was to create a statutory holiday on the first Monday in August to recognize the pioneers in the province and the act gained royal assent in 1996.

Symbols

There are a number of symbols of British Columbia. These include the Steller’s Jay (a bird), the Pacific Dogwood (a flower), jade (a mineral), the Western Red Cedar (a tree) and the provincial tartan, which contains colors to represent many aspects of the province. Two important symbols of British Columbia are the flag and the coat of arms. The top part of the flag consists of a union flag with a crown in the center. These represent the colonial links with the country and monarch of the United Kingdom. The lower part of the flag consists of a setting sun on a background of blue and white waves. These represent the geographical location of the province on the west coast of Canada between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. These elements also appear in the coat of arms.

Aug
13
Thu
Left-Handers Day
Aug 13 all-day

August 13 is Left-Handers Day. Created in 1992 by the Left-Handers Club as a way to celebrate left-handers, the unofficial holiday aims to ‘raise awareness of the advantages and disadvantages left-handers face’.

Left-Handers-Day-Church Celebrate the lefties in your life on Left-Handers Day. ©iStockphoto.com/reanas

Celebrate the lefties in your life on Left-Handers Day.

The day also encourages businesses and governments to be more left-handed friendly and adapt every-day objects for left-handed people.

10% are Left-Handed

Left-handed people use their left hands to carry out tasks that require the use of hands. About 10% of the world’s population is left-handed. Despite this, most equipment and day-to-day articles are designed and manufactured for the use of right-handed people – those who use their right hands to perform tasks.

The purpose of Left-Handers Day is to make the majority right-handers aware of the frustrations that left-handed people face while using devices designed for right-handed people. The day also encourages designers to think about the convenience of those whose left hand is their dominant hand.

Left-Handers Day is also sometimes known as International Left-Handers Day.

How to Celebrate?

  • Many organizations and public places in cities around the world create “lefty zones”, where every day objects are adapted for use by left-handed people. If you are a “lefty”, go celebrate your awesomeness at one such zone.
  • Take your right-handed friends with you to show them how difficult it can be to use objects not made for them.

Did You Know…

…that people who are ambidextrous can easily perfrom tasks and use devices with both their hands? Ambidexterity is rare and only occurs in about 1% of the population.

Aug
15
Sat
Relaxation Day
Aug 15 all-day

On August 15, take a day off from your daily routine, put your feet up and relax because it is Relaxation Day.

Relaxation-Day-Church Three children relaxing on the grass. ©iStockphoto.com/yaruta

Three children relaxing on the grass.

The origins of this holiday are unknown, though it is thought that the holiday began as National Slacker in Britain.

In the hustle bustle of their daily lives, most people often forget to slow down and take some time for themselves. This can create stress and other stress-related health issues like high blood pressure and heart problems.

Take a Deep Breath

Relaxation Day is a reminder that sometimes it is okay to take a deep breath, slow down and take it easy – not only does relaxation make you feel better about yourself, it can have long term health benefits!

So on this day, do things that help you relax and de-stress. Kick back and enjoy a cold beverage in your backyard, read a book while curled up with a hot cup of tea, sleep the whole day long, or take a warm bath and spend the day in your pajamas watching TV.

How to Celebrate?

  • Relax! Do whatever that you feel relaxes you, even if it is for a short while.
  • Use this day to do a digital detox. Unplug the computer, put away the phone and stay away from all social media. With no work emails to fret over and social dramas to be bothered with, you will feel the stress melt away.
  • Go to the spa for a day of pampering and some “me” time.
  • Take a leisurely walk in the park. Stop and smell the roses, walk barefoot on the grass, have a small picnic by yourself or read a book while people watching.
  • Learn a new skill like knitting or playing golf.

Did You Know…

…that in physics and chemistry, relaxation is a concept that refers to the movement of a system or a process from a state of disorder or disruption to equilibrium?

Aug
16
Sun
Tell a Joke Day
Aug 16 all-day

On August 16, make everyone around you giggle, guffaw, chortle, cackle or in other words, laugh, by telling them a joke because it is Tell A Joke Day.

tell-a-joke-day-fun-church Laughter is the best medicine on Tell a Joke Day. ©iStockphoto.com/Zhenikeyev

Laughter is the best medicine on Tell a Joke Day.

While the origins of this hilarious day are unknown, we can all safely assume that the creator of this unofficial holiday was aiming to make the world a happier place by encouraging people to tell and listen to jokes.

Different Jokes

A joke can be of different types. They can be verbal like in the case of a one-liner, a whole story or in the form a question and answer, where the answer provides the humor. Jokes can also be physical such as in the case of a prank or a practical joke, where the act rather than the words provide the humor. Either way, the main purpose of a joke is to entertain by providing humor, even though jokes can sometimes be used to make serious commentary like in the case of satire.

Jokes have been an integral part of human history and many a great minds have spent time and energy in trying to understand what makes jokes funny.

The day is known in the US as National Tell A Joke Day, and not to be confused with International Joke Day on July, 1.

How to Celebrate?

  • Every time you meet someone on this day, tell them a joke. Just make sure the jokes are appropriate to the setting.
  • Pick up a joke book and spend your lunch hour reading it.
  • Watch your favorite comedians do their thing either on TV or on stage and partake in a few hours of humorous entertainment.
  • Fancy yourself as a comedian? Why not take comedy and Improv classes to hone in your skills?
  • Play a harmless prank on your co-worker or friend.

Did You Know…

…that the study of laughter and humor and their therapeutic effects on the human body is known as Gelotology?

Aug
29
Sat
According to Hoyle Day
Aug 29 all-day

On August 29, honor expertise, authority and the rules because it is According to Hoyle Day. Named after the English language phrase, according to Hoyle, the unofficial holiday celebrates the life and times of Englishman Edmond Hoyle, who died on this day in 1769

according-to-hoyle-day-church Celebrate According to Hoyle Day with a game of Bridge. ©iStockphoto.com/monkeybusinessimages

Celebrate According to Hoyle Day with a game of Bridge.

A lawyer by trade, Edmond Hoyle is best known for publishing books detailing the rules and regulations of many popular card and board games of his time, including chess and backgammon. He is also known for writing an authoritative pamphlet on the card game of Whist.

Game of Skills

Whist is a trick card game played by two teams of two players each. The card game evolved from a previous game called Ruff and Honors and is the predecessor of Bridge. Popular in the 18th and the 19th century, the game required mathematical and logical skills.

Appeal to Authority

The phrase according to Hoyle came from the authoritative books Hoyle wrote on the rules and regulations of games. When people played these games and made a play that was questioned, they could invoke Hoyle’s rules by saying “according to Hoyle…”. Today, the phrase is used generally to suggest expertise or the highest authority on a subject matter.

How to Celebrate?

  • Play a game of Whist by following Hoyle’s rules. Don’t know how? Today is a good excuse to learn!
  • Are you an expert on a subject? Why not spend the day jotting your thought about the subject?

Did You Know…

…the word Whist comes from whisk, from whisking or moving the cards during the game?

Sep
5
Sat
Cheese Pizza Day
Sep 5 all-day

September 5 is Cheese Pizza Day, a day to indulge in a slice (or two) of the classic and simple cheese pizza.

cheese-pizza-day-church Cheese pizza may be one of the simplest kinds of pizza, but it is no less delicious. ©bigstockphoto.com/Milkos

Cheese pizza may be one of the simplest kinds of pizza, but it is no less delicious.

While the origins of this fun food holiday are unknown, we can all safely assume that it encourages people to pay homage to the humble but delicious pizza pie covered with only tomato sauce, seasonings and cheese.

Hearty Italian Dish

Italian in origin, a pizza is a hearty dish made of rolled out dough topped with tomato, cheese, vegetables or meats, which is baked in an oven before being served. It is believed that the pizza as we know it today originated in Naples, Italy. A Traditional Speciality Guaranteed product in Europe, the Neapolitan pizza is made with tomatoes and Mozzarella cheese. This means that only pizzas made in Naples can be called Neapolitan pizza in the European Union and the rest of Europe.

Fit for a Queen

Legend has it that a variant of Neapolitan pizza, the Margherita, was created by pizza maker Raffaele Esposito in 1889 to honour the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. The pizza represented the national colors of the flag of Italy with the use of tomato, mozzarella and basil.

How to Celebrate?

Celebrating Cheese Pizza Day, which is also sometimes known as National Cheese Pizza Day in the United States, is easy. Here are some ways to celebrate this delicious holiday:

  • Make your own cheese pizza at home from scratch. Experiment with different types of cheese. Perhaps you could try replacing the mozzarella with blue cheese, brie or some creamy goat cheese?
  • Have cheese pizza for all your meals. Start with a breakfast pizza, with feta cheese, bacon and eggs. Have a classic cheese pizza for lunch, and a gourmet cheese pizza with your favorite meat and vegetable toppings for dinner. End the day with a dessert pizza – pizza with cream cheese, chocolate and berries.
  • Visit your favorite pizza place and treat yourself to a slice or two of their cheese pizza.

Did You Know…

…that tomato wasn’t a staple addition to the pizza until the 1700s? Tomatoes only became popular with pizza lovers in Italy in the 1900s. Before that, they were thought to be poisonous and unfit for consumption.

Labour Day In Canada
Sep 5 all-day

Labour Day in Canada is celebrated on the first Monday of September. It originally gave workers the chance to campaign for better working conditions or pay. The day is now part of a long weekend for many Canadians.

Labour-Day Church Labour Day is a time when many Canadians can relax and unwind from work or studies. ©thinkstockphoto.com

Labour Day is a time when many Canadians can relax and unwind from work or studies.

What Do People Do?

Traditionally, Labour Day was an occasion to campaign for and celebrate workers’ rights during parades and picnics organized by trade unions. These still play a role in Labour Day for some Canadians, but many people see the first Monday in September as an opportunity to take a late summer trip, perhaps to their country cottage, or enjoy the company of family or friends at picnics, fairs, festivals and fireworks displays. For teenagers and other students, the Labour Day weekend is the last chance to celebrate with a party or to go on a trip before school re-opens for the new academic year.

Canadian football fans may spend a large proportion of the weekend watching the Labour Day Classic matches live or on television. The Labour Day Classic consists of three games between high ranking teams in the Canadian Football League. One match is played on the Sunday before Labour Day and two on Labour Day.

Public Life

Post offices, many businesses, and many organizations are closed on Labour Day in Canada. Schools and other educational establishments are also closed, as Labour Day falls at the end of the summer holiday period. Many public transport services run to a reduced or “Sunday” service, although others may not run at all. There may be some local disruption to traffic around parades, particularly in Toronto, and some congestion on highways and at airports as people return form late summer vacations or trips.

Background

The origins of Labour Day can be traced back to April 15, 1872, when the Toronto Trades Assembly organized Canada’s first significant demonstration for worker’s rights. The aim of the demonstration was to release the 24 leaders of the Toronto Typographical Union who were imprisoned for striking to campaign for a nine-hour working day. At this time, trade unions were still illegal and striking was seen as a criminal conspiracy to disrupt trade. In spite of this, the Toronto Trades Assembly was already a significant organization and encouraged workers to form trade unions, mediated in disputes between employers and employees and signaled the mistreatment of workers.

There was enormous public support for the parade and the authorities could no longer deny the important role that the trade unions had to play in the emerging Canadian society. A few months later, a similar parade was organized in Ottawa and passed the house of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John Macdonald. Later in the day, he appeared before the gathering and promised to repeal all Canadian laws against trade unions. This happened in the same year and eventually led to the founding of the Canadian Labour Congress in 1883.

Labour Day was originally celebrated in the spring but it was moved to the fall after 1894. A similar holiday, Labor Day is held on the same day in the United States of America. Canadian trade unions are proud that this holiday was inspired by their efforts to improve workers’ rights. Many countries have a holiday to celebrate workers’ rights on or around May 1.

Nov
11
Wed
Remembrance Day in Canada
Nov 11 all-day

Remembrance Day commemorates the sacrifices of people in all armed conflicts.

remembrance-day-church  Remembrance Day commemorates the sacrifices that Canadians made in armed conflicts, including World Wars I and II. ©iStockphoto.com/James Warren


Remembrance Day commemorates the sacrifices that Canadians made in armed conflicts, including World Wars I and II.

What Happens on Remembrance Day?

Many people wear artificial poppies on their clothes in the weeks before Remembrance Day. Red poppies symbolize the memory of those who died and white poppies campaigns for non-military interventions in conflict situations. On November 11, special church services are organized. These often include the playing of “The Last Post”, a reading of the fourth verse of the ‘Ode of Remembrance’ and two minutes silence at 11:00 (or 11am). After the service, wreaths are laid at local war memorials.

The official Canadian national ceremonies are held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario, according to a strict protocol. A service is held and wreaths are laid by armed services representatives. In May 2000 the remains of a Canadian soldier who died in France in World War I, but was never been identified, were laid in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial.

Since then, members of the public have laid poppies, letters and photographs on the tomb. Similar services and events are held throughout Canada. Some schools that are open on Remembrance Day hold special assemblies, lessons and presentations on armed conflicts and those who died in them.

What’s Open or Closed?

The federal government recognizes Remembrance Day in the Holidays Act as a national holiday, but not all provinces treat it as a paid statutory holiday. Its status varies by province.

Manitoba

Manitoba retail business is prohibited between 9am and 1pm on Remembrance Day, with exception to professional health services, goods or services relating to:

  • Living accommodation or prepared meals.
  • Veterinary services.
  • Drugs, medicines, surgical appliances, or infant formula.
  • Gasoline, motor oil or related products.
  • Or parts and services for emergency repairs to a vehicle.

Remembrance Day is not a general holiday under Manitoba’s labour legislation but most industries in Manitoba are not allowed to operate that day, with some specified exceptions.

Ontario

In Ontario, some employers give their employees a holiday on Remembrance Day, but they are not require to do so under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA).

Quebec

Remembrance Day is also not a statutory holiday in Quebec, although corporations that are federally registered may make the day a full holiday, or instead, designate a provincially recognized holiday on a different day. When Remembrance Day falls on a Sunday or Saturday that is a non-working day, workers are entitled to a holiday with pay on the working day immediately preceding or following the general holiday.

Nova Scotia

Remembrance Day is governed by the Remembrance Day Act in Nova Scotia. Some employees may be entitled to a benefit. Employees required to work on Remembrance Day in Nova Scotia get an alternate day off with pay, except for those types of businesses that are exempt from the Act. Employees who do not work that day, do not get paid for the day, unless the employer offers pay as an added benefit. Remembrance Day must be observed on the actual date.

About Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the official end of the World War I hostilities on November 11, 1918. World War I was a massive conflict was played out over the whole globe, but particularly in Europe, where troops from Canada supported the Allied forces.

World War I resulted in the loss of huge numbers of lives amongst both civilians and military personnel. Many more people were badly injured. The war left great emotional scars in the servicemen, who had experienced it, and in the communities, whose sons, brothers, fathers, uncles and even grandfathers had died. Remembrance Day commemorates those who died in armed conflicts, particularly in and since World War I.

In Canada, November 11 is officially called Remembrance Day, but it is also known as Armistice Day and Poppy Day. Remembrance Day is commemorated in many countries, particularly members of the Commonwealth, including Australia and New Zealand (where it is also referred to as Armistice Day). In the United States, Veterans Day falls on the same date. In the United Kingdom, the Sunday closest to November 11 is known as Remembrance Sunday.

Symbols

Remembrance Day is symbolized by the artificial poppies that people wear and place at war memorials. The poppies may be worn or placed singly or as wreaths. The use of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance comes from a poem written by John McCrae, a Canadian doctor serving in the military. The poem is called In Flanders Fields and describes the poppies growing in the Flemish graveyards where soldiers were buried.

Poppies grow well in soil that has been disturbed. They also grew in large numbers on battle fields. The red color of their petals reminded people of the blood lost by victims of and casualties in the conflict. Some people choose to wear white poppies to campaign for non-military interventions in conflict situations.

Other symbols of Remembrance Day are the war memorials, which are often near the geographical center of communities. These commemorate members of the community, who have died in military action. A particularly well-known memorial is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa, Ontario. The military parades held on November 11 are also symbolic of Remembrance Day.

Note:  For more information on the day, government sources such as Veterans Affairs Canada have a more detailed account.

Nov
21
Sat
World Hello Day – Promote Peace
Nov 21 all-day

World Hello Day on November 21 is an unofficial holiday created to promote world peace through interpersonal communication.

world-hello-day-church Say "hello" to everyone you meet on World Hello Day. ©iStockphoto.com/Maridav

Say “hello” to everyone you meet on World Hello Day.

The unofficial holiday was created by Brian and Michael McCormack as a response to the Yom Kippur War between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egyptand Syria in 1973.

Say Hello

The purpose of World Hello Day is simple – to encourage communication and dialogue between people of different backgrounds in order to achieve peace and understanding.

Since its beginning in 1973, the day has been celebrated around the world annually with several Nobel Peace Prize winners and peace activists taking part in it.

How to Celebrate?

  • World Hello Day requires that participants greet at least 10 people. These people can be family and friends, but it is suggested that one finds strangers to greet and talk to.

Did You Know…

…that hello was used as a telephone greeting for the first time by Thomas Edison?

Dec
8
Tue
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Dec 8 all-day

Many Christians, particularly those of Catholic faith, in Canada observe the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on or around December 8.

feast-of-the-immaculate-conception-st-stephens-church  Various statues and other forms of artwork on the Immaculate Conception often feature the Virgin Mary as a young woman. ©iStockphoto.com/Domenico Pellegriti


Various statues and other forms of artwork on the Immaculate Conception often feature the Virgin Mary as a young woman.

What Do People Do?

Some churches in Canada, particularly the Catholic churches, hold special services (or masses) to commemorate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on or close to December 8. The feast focuses on the concept that the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin. Many churches that observe the Feast of the Immaculate Conception are busy preparing for the occasion prior to its occurrence.

Many church-run schools teach their students about the observance and its meaning around this time of the year. Some people write feature articles about the observance in publications or gazettes that are centered on the theme of religion.

Public Life

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is an observance among many Christian churches but it is not a nationwide public holiday in Canada.

Background

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception centers on the belief that Jesus’ mother, the Virgin Mary, was conceived without sin. Pope Pius IX issued an apostolic constitution, known as the Ineffabilis Deus, on December 8, 1854. This document clarified the importance of the Immaculate Conception in the Catholic Church.

Symbols

Various paintings, statues and other forms of artwork have been made depicting the Immaculate Conception. Images of the Virgin Mary are shown in many of these artworks. Some churches and church-run schools in Canada are named in honor of the Immaculate Conception.

Conception Bay, in Newfoundland and Labrador, is named to commemorate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. People from Europe came to this area as far back as the early 1500s to use the bay for its rich marine resources.

Dec
11
Fri
Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster
Dec 11 all-day

The Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster is observed in Canada on December 11 each year to mark the statute’s establishment. The Canadian flag and the Royal Union flag are flown together on this day.

the-anniversary-of-the-statute-of-westminster-canadian-flag-royal-union-flag-st-stephens-church  Both the Canadian flag and the Royal Union flag are flown together on the Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster. ©iStockphoto.com/philpell


Both the Canadian flag and the Royal Union flag are flown together on the Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster.

Flags Up from Sunrise to Sunset

Businesses, individuals and government offices across Canada observe the Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster on this day. Canada’s national flag and the Royal Union Flag, also known as the Union Jack, are flown from sunrise to sunset. The flags can be seen at federal buildings, airports, military bases and other government establishments.

What’s Open or Closed?

The Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster is not a public holiday but government and military officials ensure that the Canadian flag and the Royal Union flag are flown together from sunrise to sunset on this day.

About the Day

The original Royal Union flag, or Union Jack, was first raised at a British settlement in Newfoundland, Canada, after 1610. In 1870 the flag was incorporated into the flags of the Governor General and the Lieutenant Governors of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In 1904 the flag became a Canadian symbol and was used by Canadian troops during World War I.

However, for many years during the early 20th century Canada sought to gain formal recognition of its autonomy from the United Kingdom. Finally, in 1931 the Statute of Westminster, 1931, which was an Act of the British Parliament, gave Canada its autonomy. This statute marks the independence of Canada as the nation that it is today.

In 1964 Canada’s parliament approved for the Royal Union flag to be used as a symbol of Canada’s membership in the Commonwealth of Nations and of the nation’s allegiance to the British Crown. Canada remains close with the United Kingdom and flies the Royal Union Flag along with the Canadian flag for occasions such as the Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster, Commonwealth Day, and Victoria Day.

Symbols

The Royal Union Flag, which is seen on the arms of British Columbia and on the flags of Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia, incorporates the diagonal cross of St Patrick with England’s St George’s cross and Scotland’s St Andrew’s cross. The Canadian flag is red and white, the official colors of Canada, with a stylized 11-point red leaf in its center. When flown together, there must be at least two flag poles and the Canadian flag takes precedence, never being replaced by the Union Jack.

xx

Feb
14
Sun
Valentine’s Day in Canada
Feb 14 all-day

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for people in Canada to tell somebody that they love them in a romantic way. It falls on February 14, the name day of two saints, St Valentine of Rome and St Valentine of Terni. In pre-Christian times, the middle of February was a time of pagan fertility festivals in Europe and allegedly the time when birds chose a mate.

valentine's-day-church Romantic dinners are a popular way to celebrate Valentine's Day. ©iStockphoto.com/g_studio

Romantic dinners are a popular way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
©iStockphoto.com/g_studio

What Do People Do?

Many people send letters, cards, presents and gifts to the person with whom they have or want to have a romantic relationship. Valentine’s Day cards are often red or pink and decorated with images of hearts, red roses, teddy bears, presents or happy couples kissing or embracing. They may be in brightly colored, perhaps pink or red, envelopes.

Many people give gifts to loved ones on Valentine’s Day. Common gifts are:

  • Flowers, particularly red roses.
  • Chocolates and/or candy.
  • Teddy bears.
  • Toy hearts.
  • Sparkling wine.
  • Cosmetics.
  • Clothing, including lingerie.
  • Jewelry.

Some people celebrate Valentine’s Day lavishly. They may treat their partner to a themed meal in a restaurant or a night in a luxury hotel. Others may take short breaks or vacations on Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day can also be an occasion for a more general celebration of love and appreciation of people who are personally important to an individual. School children may help decorate their classrooms with hearts and spring birds and make cards or presents for their parents. Stores may also sell Valentine’s Day themed cakes, cookies or candy. Teenagers and young adults may hold Valentine’s Day parties or dances on or near February 14.

Public Life

Valentine’s Day is not a public holiday. Schools, businesses, organizations, post offices and stores are open as usual. Public transport services run to their usual timetables. Restaurants and hotels may be busy as many people take out their partner for a romantic meal or night away in a hotel.

Background

The origins of Valentine’s Day are not clear. It is thought that there were a number of local fertility festivals in Europe in pre-Christian times. These were often in the middle of February. Many people also thought that birds chose their mates at this time of year. Around the year 1380, the English poet Chaucer wrote a poem for the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia. This is thought to be the first association between celebrations of romantic love and St Valentine’s Day on February 14. The connection remained important throughout the middle ages.

In the mid-19th century, there was an increase in interest in Valentine’s Day, first in the United States, then in Canada. It was promoted by manufacturers of paper lace and cards as a means of increasing their sales. Gradually, this date was seen as an occasion for a man to present gifts to a woman with whom he had or would like to have had a romantic relationship.  It was also customary for lovers to exchange handwritten notes. These have now largely been replaced by commercially produced cards.

Symbols

The most common symbols of Valentine’s Day are heart shapes, which are used to decorate many things, including cards, trees, wrapping paper, cookies and gift boxes. Other symbols associated with February 14 are pairs of birds, cute teddy bears, Cupid and his arrows and couples kissing or embracing. The colors red and pink are often associated with Valentine’s Day.

Mar
14
Sun
Good Friday in Canada
Mar 14 – Mar 15 all-day

Good Friday occurs two days before Easter Sunday. It is the day when Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which plays an important part in the Christian faith. It is also a statutory holiday in all Canadian provinces and territories except Quebec, where it is partially observed.

Good Friday Church

Good Friday Church A depiction of Jesus on the cross.

What Do People Do?

Christians may attend special church services, even if they do not attend church regularly during the rest of the year. Good Friday is a day of mourning and quiet prayer among many Christians. The candles are often extinguished and statues, paintings and crosses may be draped in black, purple or gray cloth. Some Catholics observe a partial fast on Good Friday and do not eat any meat.

Hot cross buns are a traditional treat on Good Friday. These are small bread-like buns, made from dough that contains raisins, currants and other dried fruit. The top of a hot cross bun is marked with a cross and covered with a sugar glaze. The cross may be cut into the bun or marked with a special dough that remains pale even after it has been baked. Hot cross buns may be eaten as they are, split and spread with butter or toasted.

For Canadians who are not Christians Good Friday is the start of a three or four-day weekend. This is a welcome spring break, which some people use to visit family or friends. It is also a popular time to take a short vacation.

Public Life

Good Friday is a public holiday at a national level in Canada. Schools and many businesses and organizations are closed and many people have a day off work. Post offices are closed and in some areas, particularly in the provinces of Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, stores are closed or have restricted opening hours. Public transport services many run to their usual or restricted timetables. In rural areas, public transport may close down completely.

In Quebec, Good Friday or Easter Monday are a statutory general holidays at the option of the employer. Schools and post offices are closed. Public transport services many run to their usual or restricted timetables. In rural areas, public transport may close down completely.

Background

Good Friday is the day when Christians commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. This is an important event in Christianity, as it represents the sacrifices and suffering in Jesus’ life. The crucifixion was the culmination of a number of events in Holy Week, including: the triumphal return of Jesus to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; the washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus; and the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday. The Easter date depends on the ecclesiastical approximation of the March equinox.

On Good Friday in 1964 (March 27), a large earthquake occurred when a fault between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates ruptured. The epicenter of the earthquake was near Prince William Sound in Alaska, USA, but also caused a tsunami. This damaged or destroyed more than 400 homes in communities on the west coast of Vancouver Island, including Port Alberni and Zeballos.

Symbols

The most important Good Friday symbol is the crucifix, or cross, which represents the way Jesus died. Some crosses bear a figure of Christ. Other symbols of Good Friday include black cloth used to cover the cross, paintings and statues in churches and some homes to signify mourning. In addition, some people deliberately create a bare appearance in their homes and churches by removing all flowers and shiny objects.

Mar
15
Mon
Holy Saturday
Mar 15 all-day

Holy Saturday commemorates the day that Jesus Christ lay in the tomb after his death, according to the Christian bible. It is the day after Good Friday and the day before Easter Sunday. It is also known as Easter Eve, Easter Even, Black Saturday, or the Saturday before Easter.

Holy Saturday Church

Holy Saturday commemorates the day that Jesus (sculpture of him pictured above) lay in his tomb after he died. He was resurrected on Easter Sunday, the day after Holy Saturday, according to Christian belief.
©iStockphoto.com/Edward Lin

What Do People Do?

Many Christians worldwide observe Holy Saturday by remembering it as the day when Jesus lay in the tomb. It is a day of both sadness and joy among Christians in many cultures. Many churches hold an Easter vigil (watch) service. Discussions about the meaning behind the rituals, prayer and symbols that are all part of the Easter vigil occur during these services. Some churches also hold large baptism services on this day.

Holy Saturday is known as Judas Day in Mexico, where people burn effigies of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Street vendors sell the effigies, which range in height, and make Judas look as ugly as possible. Effigies designed for children are stuffed with candy and hung in patios at people’s homes. Other effigies are seen on the streets or hung on lamp posts. Firecrackers are attached to many of these effigies and are ignited as soon as the Mass of Glory is over. Children scramble for the candy inside the effigies after they explode.

A Czech custom, known as White Saturday, is to rattle keys and burn out Judas by burning the last of the holy oil before the church door. Holy Saturday is observed by the blessing of food and Easter baskets in Poland. Children in many countries spend time decorating and coloring eggs on the Saturday before Easter Sunday.

Public Life

Holy Saturday is a public holiday in many parts of Australia (where it is known as Easter Saturday), and in places such as (but not exclusive to):

  • Belize.
  • Chile.
  • El Salvador.
  • Hong Kong.
  • Macau.
  • Nicaragua.
  • Panama.
  • Papua New Guinea.
  • Samoa.
  • Seychelles.
  • Solomon Islands.
  • Zambia.                    
  • Zimbabwe.

Holy Saturday is not a national public holiday in countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Background

Holy Saturday is the last day of Holy Week and ends the season of Lent. It is also known as the Vigil of Easter. The day is traditionally a time of reflection and waiting. The vigil stems back to when Jesus’ followers spent this day waiting after his crucifixion on Good Friday. It is also known as the day when Roman governor Pontius Pilate instructed guards to be posted at the tomb to prevent Jesus’ followers from removing the body to claim that he had risen from the dead.

Holy Saturday was also known as Great or Grand Saturday, as well as the Angelic Night. It was the only Saturday on which fasting was permitted in the early days of the Christian church. According to some sources, fasting occurred during the entire day or lasted for 40 hours before the Easter Sunday sunrise during the first century CE. This day was a major day for baptisms in the early church. Many churches still hold large services for baptisms on Holy Saturday.

Some people refer to Holy Saturday as Easter Saturday but this is a misnomer, as Holy Saturday is the last day of Lent and the eve of Easter. The Saturday after Easter Sunday is known as Easter Saturday, or Bright Saturday. It is important to note, however, that Holy Saturday is often referred to as Easter Saturday by some government sources in countries such as Australia.

Symbols

The Paschal candle, which is made of white wax, symbolizes leading people out of the darkness into the celebration of the Easter vigil. The candle is marked with a cross, an alpha and an omega (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet). This symbolizes that Jesus Christ has, and always will be with humanity, and is with humanity now, according to Christian belief.

Mar
16
Tue
Easter Sunday
Mar 16 – Mar 17 all-day

Easter Sunday in Canada celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection after his death, which is described in the Christian Bible. Some people observe Easter Sunday by attending church while others spend time with their families and friends or engage in Easter egg activities.

Easter Sunday Canada Church

Easter eggs are part of the Easter tradition in Canada.

What Do People Do?

Easter is a religious holiday that commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his death by crucifixion. For Christians, Easter is a day of religious services and family gatherings. Easter Day is a popular day for attending church, getting together for a big family meal, and staging an Easter egg hunt. It is also a good time for people to decorate Easter eggs, join in Easter craft contests and to indulge in holiday recipes, such as mustard-crusted lamb and the Easter basket cake.

The Bal en Blanc’s main event is held every Easter Sunday, attracting thousands of partygoers every year in Montreal.

Public Life

Many businesses, government offices, banks and liquor stores are closed on Easter Sunday.

Background

Many people organized spring festivals associated with the Pagan gods in ancient times. Many festivals celebrated nature’s rebirth, the return the land to fertility and the birth of many young animals.The idea of modern day Easter eggs derives from these festivals.

Many ideas associated with spring were then linked with Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection as the Christianity spread throughout the world. The crucifixion is remembered on Good Friday and the resurrection on Easter Sunday. The idea of the resurrection became joined up with the ideas of re-birth in Pagan beliefs. The Easter date depends on the ecclesiastical approximation of the March equinox.

Symbols

Easter candles are sometimes lit in churches on the eve of Easter Sunday. Some believe that these can be directly linked to the Pagan customs of lighting bonfires to welcome the rebirth or resurrection of the sun god.

Eggs of all types are an important symbol of Easter. They represent the rebirth of nature in the spring and the promise of new life in the spring and summer months to come and are seen as a reflection of the resurrection of Christ after his crucifixion. Easter eggs, whether they are made of chocolate or candy or are decorated hens eggs, are common gifts all over the world during Easter. However, the biggest Easter egg in the world is a representation of a Ukrainian Easter egg, known as a Pysanka, located in Vegreville, Alberta.

The Pysanka in Vegreville was constructed in 1974 to mark the centenary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and to celebrate Vegreville’s strong links with the Ukraine. It is made of more than 2000 aluminium triangles fixed together with nearly 7000 bolts and 177 internal struts. The egg is more than 25 feet (nearly eight meters) in diameter and is decorated with a gold, silver and bronze design. Its construction represented significant advances in computer modeling, mathematical theory, architectural design and engineering construction.

Mar
17
Wed
Easter Monday
Mar 17 all-day

Easter Monday is the day after Easter Sunday, which commemorates Jesus Christ’s resurrection, according to the Christian Bible. Easter Monday is also a holiday for many Canadians.

Easter Monday Church

A basket of Easter eggs.
©iStockphoto.com/Shannon Long

Celebrate Easter Monday

A proportion of Canadians have a day off work on Easter Monday and for some it is the end of a four-day weekend. People who have been on a short vacation or who have visited family or friends often travel home on Easter Monday. For others, it is a chance to eat their easter eggs, relax and, depending on the weather and when Easter falls, enjoy some time outdoors.

Public Life

The Canadian federal government lists Easter Monday as a statutory holiday but this isn’t the case with some provincial and territorial governments. Some state that the holiday is taken at the employer’s option. Rules about this holiday change and vary across businesses and provinces/territories from time to time.

Schools, businesses and organizations are closed in places where Easter Monday is a day off. Public transport services may run to reduced timetables. In rural areas, there may be no public transport services.

About Easter Monday

Easter Monday is a holiday in many English speaking countries, including England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Australia, and European counties. The tradition of having a holiday on the day after Easter Sunday was brought to Canada by European immigrants. The Easter date depends on the ecclesiastical approximation of the March equinox.

Symbols

Eggs of all types are an important symbol of Easter. They represent the rebirth of nature in the spring and the promise of new life in the spring and summer months to come and are seen as a reflection of the resurrection of Christ after his crucifixion. Easter eggs, whether they are made of chocolate or candy or are decorated hens eggs, are common gifts all over the world during Easter. However, the biggest Easter egg in the world is a representation of a Ukranian Easter egg, known as a Pysanka, located in Vegreville, Alberta.

The Pysanka in Vegreville was constructed in 1974 to mark the centenary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and to celebrate Vegreville’s strong links with the Ukraine. It is made of more than 2000 aluminium triangles fixed together with nearly 7000 bolts and 177 internal struts. The egg is more than 25 feet (nearly eight meters) in diameter and is decorated with a gold, silver and bronze design. Its construction represented significant advances in computer modeling, mathematical theory, architectural design and engineering construction.

Jul
2
Fri
National Cheesecake Day
Jul 2 all-day

July 30 is National Cheesecake Day, a day to treat yourself with a slice (or two) of this decadent dessert made of cream cheese, eggs, sugar and a graham cracker crust.

national-cheesecake-day-church We won't judge you! Celebrate National Cheesecake Day with a slice or two or three of your favorite cheesecake. ©iStockphoto.com/william87

We won’t judge you! Celebrate National Cheesecake Day with a slice or two or three of your favorite cheesecake.

Believed to have originated in ancient Greece, cheesecakes, whether baked or chilled, have become a restaurant and bakery staple around the world. There are many different regional variations of the cake. For example, the Germans use Quark and a freshly made pastry as the base for their version of the cake. In Brazil, on the other hand, cheesecake is served with a thin layer of guava jelly or marmalade.

How to Celebrate?

  • With a big slice of cheesecake of course! Add some fruits to it, and you can claim that it is healthy!
  • Bake a cheesecake at home and add new twists to the traditional recipe. Here are some ideas: replace the graham cracker crust by chocolate cookie crust; add bacon to the crust for a salty and smoky flavor; replace cream cheese with ricotta or goat cheese.
  • Make a savory version of the cake for dinner and a sweet version for dessert.
  • In honor of National Cheesecake Day, many restaurants and bakeries have cheesecake specials on their menus. Take your family and friends out to try out one of these specials.

Did You Know…

…that a turophile is someone who loves and fancies cheese?

Jul
19
Mon
Stick Out Your Tongue Day
Jul 19 all-day

July 19 is Stick Out Your Tongue Day.

stick-out-your-tongue-day-church Sticking out one's tongue at someone else can mean different things in different cultures. ©bigstockphoto.com/Creatista

Sticking out one’s tongue at someone else can mean different things in different cultures.

It is unclear whether the anonymous inventor of this made-up holiday intended it to be a day for people to stick out their tongues at everyone they come across or for them to visit their doctors to get a general check-up.

It is also possible that the creator of this unofficial holiday created it to encourage people to defy odds and attempt things that they find difficult to do.

Many cultures consider sticking out the tongue at someone as a childish, rude and insulting gesture. In these cultures, when children stick out their tongue at adults, it is seen as an act of disobedience. In Tibet, however, sticking out one’s tongue is considered to be a polite form of greeting.

Perfectly Fine at the Doctor’s Office

There is one place where sticking out one’s tongue is not only considered ok, but can be sometimes essential – in a doctor’s office. The tongue, which is a muscle that helps humans in eating food and speaking, is also one of the many organs in the human body that doctors check to detect signs of illness.

Today, sticking out one’s tongue over the Internet or through text (or SMS) is done through emoticons, and seen as a way to express a point that should not be taken very seriously. The emoticon is written by typing a colon, followed by a dash and a capital (:-P).

How to Celebrate?

  • Stick out your tongue at people. Just let them know why you are doing it, lest they think of you as a terribly rude person.
  • If there are things that are bothering you, take this day to stick your tongue out at them.
  • If you are overdue for a general check-up, perhaps today is the day to visit the doctor and get a clean bill of health.
Jul
20
Tue
Space Exploration Day
Jul 20 all-day

On July 20, look up at the sky and think back on all the advances humankind has made in exploring and understanding space because it is Space Exploration Day.

Space-Exploration-Day-Church Space shuttle launch from Kennedy Space Center. ©bigstockphoto.com/kjwarden

Space shuttle launch from Kennedy Space Center.

The annual holiday commemorates the anniversary of the first manned mission to the Moon. On July 20, 1969, Americans astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to step foot on the surface of the Moon.

In 1984, the day was proclaimed a holiday by United States President Ronald Reagan. The proclamation also designated June 16-24 U.S. Space Observation in honor of the 9 days that Apollo 11 was in space. The fifth manned mission of NASA’s Apollo program, Apollo 11 was launched from Florida on June 16. It returned to Earth with the 3 astronauts – Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins on June 24.

Moon Day

The holiday, which is also sometimes called Moon Day, encourages people to learn more about space exploration. It attempts to inspire young adults to consider space sciences and space exploration as careers.

How to Celebrate?

  • Visit your local space and science museums and spend the day there learning about Space and our astronomical neighbors.
  • Join an astronomy club and participate in their Space Exploration Day activities.
  • If you have young children in your life, get them interested in Space and related fields by reading them books about Space and space technology.

Did You Know…

…that 12 people, including Armstrong and Aldrin, have walked on the surface of the Moon?

Jul
23
Fri
Vanilla Ice Cream Day
Jul 23 all-day

July 23 is Vanilla Ice Cream Day. Celebrate this unofficial holiday of unknown origins by eating as much vanilla ice cream as you want without any guilt.

Vanilla-Ice-Cream-Day-Church Vanilla ice cream is the most popular flavor of ice cream around the world ©bigstockphoto.com/Sparkia

Vanilla ice cream is the most popular flavor of ice cream around the world

Made by freezing a custard of cream or milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla beans or flavoring, vanilla ice cream is the most popular flavor of ice cream in the United States and Canada according to some surveys.

Recognizable Flavor

Vanilla is a flavoring that comes from the pods of the fruit of the vanilla orchid. A native plant of Mexico, vanilla was unknown to the the world outside Central America until the late 1600s. Today, it is one of the world’s most recognized flavors. The expression, plain vanilla, is used to refer to something that is commonplace and does not have any special or distinguishing characteristics.

Vanilla Ice Cream Day is also sometimes known as National Vanilla Ice Cream Day in the US.

How to Celebrate?

  • Do we need to say anything else other than it’s Vanilla Ice Cream Day! Eat as much ice cream as you can possibly eat.
  • Having pancakes of breakfast? Add a dollop of vanilla ice cream with it. Brownies for dinner? Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Smoothies for an after work out snack? Add a few scoops of vanilla ice cream. Well, you get our point.

Did You Know…

…that vanilla is thought to be the world’s second most expensive spice? The most expensive spice in the world is saffron.

Jul
24
Sat
Cousins Day
Jul 24 all-day

Cousins are fun to be with – they are almost like your siblings but you don’t have to share all your prized possessions with them all the time. Celebrate them on Cousins Day, an annual celebration of the special bond you share with your cousins.

Celebrated every year on July 24, the unofficial holiday is also sometimes known as National Cousins Day.

cousins-day-church Give your cousins a big hug to celebrate Cousins Day. ©bigstockphoto.com/SerrNovik

Give your cousins a big hug to celebrate Cousins Day.

Shared Ancestors

In general, cousins are relatives with whom we share an ancestor, though in many cultures the term is commonly used to refer to the children of our aunts and uncles. In genealogy, which is the study of families and their history, a relationship between cousins – two people who have a common ancestor – is named after which generation they belong to.

The Many Different Types of Cousins

When cousins are from the same generation, they are known as first, second or third cousins. For example, first cousins are children of siblings – your uncle and aunt’s children will be your first cousins. The children of first cousins are second cousins, and the children of second cousins are third cousins.

On the other hand, when two people are not from the same generation, their relationship is described by adding the word removed. First cousin once removed, for example, is used to describe the relationship between a person and the children of his or her first cousin – your first cousin’s child will be your first cousin once removed. First cousin once removed can also be used to refer to a parent’s first cousin.

Confused? One easy way to remember is that once removed means that there is a separation of one generation between the two relatives. Twice removed means there are two generations between them. The same logic applies to other degrees of cousinhood.

How to Celebrate?

  • Send a note or message to your cousins wishing them a happy Cousins Day. Tell them that you love them and you care about them.
  • If you live close to your cousins, why not get together with them and their families and do something fun?
  • If your cousins live far away, you could video chat with them or talk to them over the phone.

Did You Know…

…that a genogram is a type of a family tree that includes medical, hereditary, and psychological information about the members of the family?