Canadian Culture

Due to Canada’s history of international migration the country is extremely culturally diverse. The attitude of Canada is subsequently welcoming and egalitarian. Retaining a distinct sense of cultural identity, custom and tradition is encouraged across the population.

Although national and regional/provincial allegiance can be intense, Canadians are globally known for their manners, their community focus and their tolerance.

Canadian Holidays

There are several important annual holidays which are specific to Canada.

Waffle Day

On March 25th this tasty sounding holiday is for Swedish-Canadians. You might be able to guess what they eat in celebration!

Victoria Day

Victoria Day occurs each year on the Monday before May 24th. This holiday was established in Britain during the 1950’s to celebrate the birthday of one of the nation’s longest running monarchs, Queen Victoria. Canadians use this holiday to honour Queen Elizabeth II even though her birthday isn’t until April.

Canada Day

July 1st is Canada Day! This holiday was originally called Dominion Day. Canada Day has been celebrated since 1867 and is obviously a big holiday for Canadians – It’s the country’s birthday! On the 100th Canada Day the nation acquired the official anthem ‘O’ Canada’.

Assumption of Mary

This is the national holiday of the religious denomination Acadian. Acadians have lived in Canada since the early 17th century. At 6.00 pm on August the 15th Acadians will use pots and pans, drums and whistles to create a tumult of noise during the ‘tintmarre’ celebration.

Polar Bear Swim Day

This unusual holiday falls on Boxing Day and is only celebrated in Nanaimo, British Columbia. As the name suggests on the 26th of December people jump into Canada’s icy waters and swim with (or at least near) the Polar Bears!

Canadian Customs

The most common method of greeting in Canada is the handshake, although French Canadians sometimes use the continental custom of kissing each cheek. Also, when speaking to a French Canadian the formal pronoun ‘vous’ must be used until they allow you to switch to the informal ‘tu’.

Generally you should wait until given direct permission before addressing a new acquaintance by their first name, but relationships tend to progress to a first name basis rapidly!

In Canada table manners are normally quite informal and continental, although more formality is expected in Quebec. In Quebec it is also common etiquette to send flowers prior to attending a dinner invitation.

Although business relations may be quite reserved at the outset they usually become quite relaxed and friendly over time, although politeness is always expected and communication styles can vary between Anglophone and Francophone parts of the country. Academic titles are often used, particularly in Quebec.

Organisation and punctuality are expected attributes both in business and socially.