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Christmas Eve in Canada

Quick Facts

Christmas Eve in Canada is the day before Christmas Day and always falls on December 24 according to the Gregorian calendar.

Local names

NameLanguage
Christmas EveEnglish
la veille de NoëlFrench
HeiligabendGerman

Christmas Eve 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015
List of dates for other years

Christmas Eve in Canada is the last day of preparations for the Christmas Day and Boxing Day holidays. It is a busy shopping day and some people give gifts to family and friends on this day.

Many homes, buildings and streets are decorated prior to or on Christmas Eve in Canada.

©iStockphoto.com/Alexander Kolomietz

What do people do?

Many people in Canada have to work on Christmas Eve, but it is also a day of preparation for the approaching holidays. Some people buy last-minute Christmas gifts for family members and friends while others wrap presents that they bought earlier. If a family is going eat a traditional meal on Christmas Day, they may begin preparations on Christmas Eve.

A traditional Christmas Day meal often consists of roast turkey or goose with squash, turnips, potatoes and cranberry sauce as a main course and mince pies or plum pudding for dessert. However, people may eat dishes as diverse as clam chowder, spiced chicken wings or traditional food from the wide range of cultures represented in modern-day Canada.

Many families put up their Christmas tree and other decorations on Christmas Eve. However, some do this earlier in December and just save a few special decorations, perhaps representing the Nativity, to put on display on December 24. In some areas, a large Nativity scene, perhaps with live animals or actors playing the parts of Mary and Joseph, is set up on Christmas Eve.

People who attend church regularly may go to a church service on the evening of December 24, known as midnight mass. Traditionally, this service started at midnight as December 24 became December 25 but now often starts earlier in the evening. In Quebec the traditional meal after this service is a pie of meat, potatoes and onions known as tourtire (tortiere, tourtier).

Some families, particularly in Quebec, may exchange gifts in the evening of Christmas Eve. However, many others, particularly those with small children, end the day by hanging up large socks or sock-shaped sacks known as Christmas stockings. Children are told that a mythical figure called Santa comes to fill them with presents during the night. The story of Santa is so important to Christmas in Canada and the United States that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) maintains a website to allegedly 'track' Santa's movements on Christmas Eve.

Public life

December 24 is not a public holiday in Canada and general post offices, stores and other businesses are open. However, they may close earlier than usual to allow employees time to travel to the homes of family members. Public transit services usually run as usual in the morning and early afternoon but may offer a reduced service or close down completely in the late afternoon or early evening. There may be congestion on roads and airports and other public transit hubs may be very busy as people travel to visit friends or family members.

Background

Early European settlers in Canada came from a wide variety of cultural and religious backgrounds. People from each country and region in Europe who moved to Canada often brought their own customs centered on marking the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Present day celebrations consist of a mixture of these customs and the commercial influences that began in the late 1800s and continue today.

Symbols

Traditional Canadian Christmas decorations include natural objects such as fresh or dried cranberries or other berries, locally scavenged nuts or pine cones, feathers and branches from locally growing evergreen bushes and trees. Modern Canadian Christmas decorations may be similar to those in other countries, such as Nativity scenes, evergreen trees, Santas, snowflakes, bells and stars. However, they may also use representations of Canadian symbols, such as the red maple leaf found on the Canadian Flag, the Canada goose, the loon (a small water bird) or a Mountie (a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer) in traditional red uniform.

About Christmas Eve in other countries

Read more about Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
MonDec 241990Christmas EveObservance 
TueDec 241991Christmas EveObservance 
ThuDec 241992Christmas EveObservance 
FriDec 241993Christmas EveObservance 
SatDec 241994Christmas EveObservance 
SunDec 241995Christmas EveObservance 
TueDec 241996Christmas EveObservance 
WedDec 241997Christmas EveObservance 
ThuDec 241998Christmas EveObservance 
FriDec 241999Christmas EveObservance 
SunDec 242000Christmas EveObservance 
MonDec 242001Christmas EveObservance 
TueDec 242002Christmas EveObservance 
WedDec 242003Christmas EveObservance 
FriDec 242004Christmas EveObservance 
SatDec 242005Christmas EveObservance 
SunDec 242006Christmas EveObservance 
MonDec 242007Christmas EveObservance 
WedDec 242008Christmas EveObservance 
ThuDec 242009Christmas EveObservance 
FriDec 242010Christmas EveObservance 
SatDec 242011Christmas EveObservance 
MonDec 242012Christmas EveObservance 
TueDec 242013Christmas EveObservance 
WedDec 242014Christmas EveObservance 
ThuDec 242015Christmas EveObservance 
SatDec 242016Christmas EveObservance 
SunDec 242017Christmas EveObservance 
MonDec 242018Christmas EveObservance 
TueDec 242019Christmas EveObservance 
ThuDec 242020Christmas EveObservance 

Related holidays

Other holidays in December 2014 in Canada

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