Our second Tinsel Tale is by a fellow mummigrant who has moved from the UK to Canada.
You can check out her adventures at louslakeviews, enjoy!
As we rapidly approach our second Christmas as expats in Canada I have been reflecting on the similarities and differences of Christmas in a new country.
Many of the traditions are the same as in the UK the turkey, tinsel and the tree but there are quite a few differences and we are starting to develop a few new traditions.
Here in North America Halloween is a huge deal and this impacts the start of the festive season. Basically the shops here are full of Halloween things throughout September whereas in the UK as soon as the kids are back to school the crackers and Christmas pudding are in the shops. You couldn’t buy anything Christmassy here in October if your life depended on it! As soon as November begins though it’s ‘game on’ for the festivities.
My favourite new tradition is the Santa Claus Parade. In this part of Ontario most towns have a parade. Our local one is in early November, everyone grabs the fold up chairs, blankets, cookies and flasks of hot chocolate and we sit by the side of the road on a Saturday evening to watch the parade go by. The participants play carols and give candy canes to the kids and yell ‘Merry Christmas” as they walk along the road. Our 18 year old even comes with us, although he has inherited hubby’s ‘Scrooge’ gene and spends the whole evening saying ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS???? IT’S NOVEMBER!’ I‘m sure this is one of those occasions where he secretly loves it but feels the need to complain to be in keeping with the whole ‘teenager with attitude’ thing! The day after the parade is when the locals put up their Christmas lights and most homes have some form of outdoor decoration. We live in a typical Canadian suburb and of the 50 homes in our street there are only 4 houses with no lights up (one of them is ours, there’s that scrooge thing again!)
When the Toronto Santa Parade happens in the middle of November it’s like a declaration to the country that the Christmas season has begun. This is the day the radio stations start to play Christmas music 24/7, decorations are up, lights are on and shame on anybody who isn’t in the festive spirit.
It’s funny that in England people talk about the ‘nutters’ that put up their Christmas tree in November. Here in Canada almost everybody has their tree up by the beginning of December and even though we never put up our tree until about two days before Christmas back in England I am enjoying joining in with the early festivities.
The best part of having Christmas here in Canada is the cold weather. I love that it’s cold enough to light the fire as almost all Christmases I remember from my childhood in England were mild, cloudy and dull. There’s nothing like writing your cards or decorating the tree when it’s snowing outside and wrapping up in your scarf and gloves to do your Christmas shopping, it’s like you suddenly realize what Bing Crosby has been singing about for all these years.