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. As in any other country, holidays could be commemorations of historic events, religious traditions, or social customs. Some are observed on fixed dates, and others moveable, allowing people to enjoy long weekends with their families.

In Manitoba, there are eight general (or statutory) holidays:

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 established Manitoba as a province and provided protection for French language rights (University of Saskatchewan Libraries and the University Archives). 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. In deference to Christians, 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 usually 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 organized. 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 highlighted their campaign for the improvement of the rights of workers through parades and picnics. Today, while some unions still hold similar activities, for most people labour day means barbeques, or a summer trip to the country during the long weekend.

7. Thanksgiving Day (Second Monday in October)

Linked to the European tradition of harvest festivals, Canadian Thanksgiving day is a family day marked by sharing a special meal which usually includes roasted turkey. Want to know what Canadian Thanksgiving is all about? Read 5 things to know about Canadian Thanksgiving.

8. 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 continue to feast on traditional holiday goodies.

For general holidays, most employees are paid, whether they work or not. But if you do need or 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, Thanksgiving and Boxing Day off. However, it is not uncommon for 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.

  • 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. 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.

Sources: Manitoba Employment Standards, thecanadaguide.com, time and date.com, statutory holidays.com

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Canadian holidays

Select the correct definition for each word, as used in the article.

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