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National Flag of Canada Day in Canada

The national flag of Canada was inaugurated on February 15, 1965. The anniversary of this date is officially called the "National Flag of Canada Day", which is often shortened to "Flag Day".

Is National Flag of Canada Day a Public Holiday?

National Flag of Canada Day is not a public holiday. It falls on Saturday, February 15, 2020 and most businesses follow regular Saturday opening hours in Canada.

Flag Day in Canada commemorates the inauguration of Canada's national flag.

©iStockphoto.com/Karen Massier

What Do People Do?

The Canadian national flag, also known as the "maple leaf flag", is flown on many buildings, including private homes on National Flag of Canada Day. Some people wear pins in the form of the flag. Many schools often hold special lessons on the Canadian national flag and its history around this time of the year.

Special public events are held in some years. For example, one million flags were distributed in the "One in a Million National Flag Challenge" in 1996 so Canadians could display them on Flag Day in 1997. Celebrations were held in 2005 for the 40th anniversary of the flag’s inauguration. Some businesses distributed flags or decorated buildings with large versions of the red and white maple leaf flag. There has been a movement to make Flag Day a national statutory holiday recently.

Public Life

Flag Day is not a statutory holiday in Canada. Schools, organizations, businesses and stores are open and public transport services run to their normal timetables.

Background

The Royal Union Flag, which is also the flag of the United Kingdom, was used as the official flag of Canada until 1965. Various designs of the Canadian Red Ensign were used between 1868 and 1965 but Canada’s Parliament never officially adopted them. The National Flag of Canada’s current design results from a period of discussion, debate and political maneuvering in the early 1960s.

Many people were involved in the the design. However, Lord Stanley is often miscredited as the sole designer. While Stanley had a small part, John Ross Matheson is the person most responsible for the flag being what it is today.

The multi-party parliamentary committee formed to select a new flag unanimously chose the design on October 29, 1964. The House of Commons passed the design on December 15, 1964. Queen Elizabeth II proclaimed the new flag on January 28, 1965, and it was inaugurated on February 15 in the same year.

Symbols

The most important Flag Day symbol is the national flag of Canada. This consists of two vertical red sections separated by a white section, with an image of a red maple leaf on the white section. The whole flag is twice as wide as it is high and each of the two red rectangles is twice as high as it is wide. The white section in the middle is a perfect square. However, the size of the maple leaf is not officially specified. The Ministry of Canadian Heritage issues instructions on the type of red ink to be used for making flags or printing images of them.

The image of the red maple leaf is not only used on flags, but also on Canadian postage stamps. It is also portrayed on pins and has even been marked out in red and white flowers along highways. Since 1973, the Parliamentary Flag Program has operated to promote and encourage Canadians to express pride in their national symbol. It enables senators and members of the House of Commons to distribute flags and flag pins to their constituents.

National Flag of Canada Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2015SunFeb 15National Flag of Canada DayObservance
2016MonFeb 15National Flag of Canada DayObservance
2017WedFeb 15National Flag of Canada DayObservance
2018ThuFeb 15National Flag of Canada DayObservance
2019FriFeb 15National Flag of Canada DayObservance
2020SatFeb 15National Flag of Canada DayObservance
2021MonFeb 15National Flag of Canada DayObservance
2022TueFeb 15National Flag of Canada DayObservance
2023WedFeb 15National Flag of Canada DayObservance
2024ThuFeb 15National Flag of Canada DayObservance
2025SatFeb 15National Flag of Canada DayObservance

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