Canadian Holidays

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Who doesn’t love holidays? Canadians definitely know how to celebrate as seen from the number of special holidays observed nationwide, with additional ones for each province and territory.

Just like other countries, Canadian holidays are commemorations of historic events, religious traditions, and social customs, or a day to celebrate the contributions of noteworthy citizens. Some are observed on fixed dates, while others are moveable, giving us the opportunity to think about the significance of the celebration, practice our beliefs, or just rest and enjoy a long weekend with our families.

There are eight general (or statutory) holidays in Manitoba:

  1. New Year’s Day (January 1)

    As in most places, people start celebrating on the eve of New Year. Drinking and parties ensue as people usher in another year.

  2. Louis Riel Day (Third Monday in February)

    Louis Riel was a politician who fought for the rights of the Metis people of the Red River settlement and is regarded as Manitoba’s founder. He was a controversial leader who headed a provisional government which negotiated the Manitoba Act. This Act established Manitoba as a province. To know more about Louis Riel, read Great Canadians in History.

  3. Good Friday (moveable, usually March or April)

    One the holiest days in the Christian religion, Good Friday marks the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. It is an official holiday. Most businesses are closed on this day.

  4. Victoria Day (last Monday before May 25)

    This is celebrated in honor of Queen Victoria’s birthday. It also ushers in spring and the opening of many amusement parks and outdoor attractions. Do you know why we celebrate Victoria Day? Read Who was Victoria and why do we celebrate her day?

  5. Canada Day (July 1)

    On this day, the British North America Act of 1867 (or the Constitution Act,1867) was enacted, uniting the three colonies (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada) into a single nation. Canadians celebrate this day with a lot of pomp and pageantry. Many outdoor events such as parades, picnics, and carnivals are held. They also hold citizenship ceremonies on this day. To get involved in the celebrations this year, go to the Canada Day site.

  6. Labour Day (first Monday of September)

    The nation celebrates the rights of workers and the labour union movement on this day. Traditionally, trade union workers pushed for the improvement of the rights of workers through protests, parades, and picnics. Today, while some unions still hold similar activities, labour day means barbeques, or a summer trip to the country during the long weekend for most people.

  7. National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30)

    This is the newest statutory holiday in Manitoba. The day honours the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities. It recognizes that public commemoration of the tragic and painful history of residential schools, as well as its ongoing impacts, is a vital component of the reconciliation process. It is also called “Orange Shirt Day”.

  8. Thanksgiving Day (Second Monday in October)

    Linked to the European tradition of harvest festivals, Canadian Thanksgiving day is a family day marked by the sharing of a special feast. Want to know what else Canadian Thanksgiving celebrates? Read 5 things to know about Canadian Thanksgiving.

  9. Christmas Day (December 25)

    Feasts, gift-giving, and merry-making characterize Canadian Christmas. On Christmas Day, many children look forward to opening Santa’s presents while adults feast on traditional holiday goodies.

    For general holidays, most employees are paid, whether they work or not. But if you are required to work, the province follows a general holiday pay calculation which you can read at the Manitoba Employment Standards site.

Unofficial holidays

Of these holidays, federally regulated employees also get Easter Monday, Remembrance Day, and Boxing Day off. However, it is not uncommon for non-federal employers in Manitoba to declare some of these unofficial holidays as days off for their employees too.

  • Easter Monday (Monday after Easter)

    The Monday after Easter is a preferred day of rest for many and may also be declared a free day.

  • August Civic Holiday (First Monday of August)

    This is not recognized as a statutory holiday in Manitoba, but it is in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nunavut. Called the August long weekend, it is also called Terry Fox Day in MB (Who is Terry Fox?), British Columbia Day in BC, Saskatchewan Day in Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick Day in NB. While it is not a general holiday, many establishments will be closed or operating on limited hours.

  • Remembrance Day (November 11)

    Also known as Poppy Day, it is held to honor the contributions of the members of the armed forces who died in the line of duty, as well as active members who continue to serve. Although this is not a statutory holiday in Manitoba, the province outlines restrictions for operating business and special requirements for paying employees who work on Remembrance Day. Read What are we remembering on Remembrance Day? to know more about this significant event.

  • Boxing Day (December 26)

    Equivalent to “Black Friday” in the US, this is an official holiday only on the Federal level. But don’t be surprised if your wonderful boss gives you a paid day off which you can spend to shop all day.

 
Article updated May 8, 2024.
 
Sources: Manitoba Employment Standards, thecanadaguide.com, time and date.com, statutory holidays.com

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