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20 Heartwarming Photos of Canadian Christmas Traditions Across the Country

From New Brunswick to British Columbia, Our Canada readers showed us how they celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.

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Family playing shinny on outdoor rink in front of treesPHOTO: COLEEN RAMSAY


Coleen Ramsay captured this quintessential Canadian moment on the ice in Youghall Lagoon, New Brunswick. Nothing says Christmas in the Great White North like a game of shinny!

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Hand-woven heart in a Christmas treePHOTO: FRED ALLIN

Hearts by hand

According to Fred Allin, this is what a typical Danish Christmas decoration looks like. Allin wove these hearts himself in the 70s, and they’ve been a staple on his red and white tree ever since.

These are the 20 best-ever Christmas songs—ranked.

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Fish mounted on wall wearing Santa hat and scarfPHOTO: LYNN MABLEY

Catch of the day

Lynn Mabley’s husband has a unique Christmas tradition: every year he decorates his walleye with a seasonal scarf and toque. The prized fish needs to stay warm, after all.

Anyone can make these DIY Christmas decorations!

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Girl opening and advent calendarPHOTO: BARB SCHMIDT

Adventures in Advent

Barb Schmidt started giving Advent Calendars to her grandchildren in 1987. Thirty years later, she’s now giving them to her great-grandchildren—and has switched from chocolate to themed calendars, personalized for each kid.

This random act of small town kindness will warm your heart.

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Multiple gingerbread housesPHOTO: MIKE LANE

Gingerbread village

Mike Lane captured these gingerbread houses at the National Gingerbread Showcase in Victoria, B.C. These sweet holiday treats are also serving a good cause—all the proceeds from last year’s Showcase went to Habitat for Humanity.

Planning a Christmas cookie exchange? We’ve rounded up the best Christmas cookie recipes of all time!

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Garlands hanging at threshold to kitchenPHOTO: ANNE MARIE BEACOCK

Tree with a twist

Three years ago, Anne Marie Beacock decided to skip Christmas and repaint her house instead. When she woke up on Christmas morning, her husband had set up this make-shift tree at the entrance to their kitchen instead. Now, the couple put it up every year, whether or not anyone’s been painting.

This is the best time in Canada to buy your Christmas tree.

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Black and white photo of an extended family gathered at ChristmasPHOTO: NOELLA SHANK

A merry little Christmas

This old-school snap comes from Noella Shank, whose family used to gather at her grandma’s house in Corbeil, Ont., every year for a Christmas supper with all the trimmings—making time for a group photo in between courses.

Discover what Christmas was like during the Great Depression.

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Silver reindeer structure in a mallPHOTO: NORMA KEITH

Mall mascot 

Norma Keith caught sight of this silver Rudolph on display at the Eaton Centre in Toronto, pointing shoppers in the right direction with his light-up nose. 

These magical photos of frozen bubbles will take your breath away.

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Trees with Christmas lights on them at the Calgary ZooPHOTO: SHARON PETERS

Bright lights

Sharon Peters took this photo while on a relaxing moonlight walk around the Calgary Zoo. Who knew that animals could put up Christmas lights?

These are the best places to spend Christmas in Canada.

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Small boy putting a decoration on a treePHOTO: DANIELLE JACKSON

O tannenbaum

He might not be able to put the angel on top, but this little guy is still doing his part to help decorate the tree at Danielle Jackson’s house.

This condo has a secret Santa who delivers to all the units in her building.

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Woman in Santa sweater standing beside her Christmas treePHOTO: PAULA BROWN

Mrs. Claus

Paula Brown from Ottawa, Ont., sent us this shot of herself standing beside an expertly decorated tree. With a perfect sweater like that, she’s certainly ready to deliver some gifts.

Here’s how one contributor learned to love the Canadian winter.

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An elf on the shelf toy in front of a treePHOTO: OLIVIA LANE

Elf on the shelf

This perky elf, known in Olivia Lane’s house as Katie, is responsible for keeping an eye on Lane’s kids and making sure they get on Santa’s nice list.

Can you find the one doll hidden in the sea of Christmas toys?

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A green pickle Christmas tree ornamentPHOTO: ROBB GORR

Unusual ornament

Robb Gorr sent in this picture of a Christmas pickle, which some North American families hide amongst the branches of their trees. According to tradition, the first person to find the pickle on Christmas morning will have good luck in the coming year.

Get into the holiday spirit with one family’s merry memories of an unforgettable Christmas.

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Christmas tree decorations laid out on a piece of foilPHOTO: VIVIAN WEVER

Family gathering

Vivian Wever’s family has been painting ornaments together at Christmas for over 30 years. Wever enjoys the friendly competition of seeing who paints the best ornament, but the real prize is spending time with her grandkids. 

You’ll love this story of how a family dog helped save the Christmas pudding.

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Three plates of Christmas-themed cookiesPHOTO: SUE THOMPSON

Seasonal sweets

Both fun and tasty, baking might be the perfect holiday activity. Sue Thompson certainly thinks so—she sent in this shot of some colourful cookies.

Here’s the real reason why we bake cookies at Christmastime.

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Plastic Santa figure looking out over the harbour in Cote Nord, QuebecPHOTO: TAMMY GREEN

Santa’s harbour

Tammy Green’s husband loves to decorate their house for the holidays, especially now that they have grandkids to impress. A key fixture of their annual decorations is the light-up Santa Claus, who stands guard over the harbour in Cote-Nord, Quebec. 

Discover this family’s annual holiday tradition of an amaryllis growing contest.

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A horse with a red bow around its neckPHOTO: ANN LANE

Holly jolly horse 

Everyone in Ann Lane’s family loves to get dressed up for the holidays—even the pets! Hopefully this guy gets some hay in his stocking.

This is what a country Christmas was like in the 1950s.

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Santa Claus on a float in the Santa Claus paradePHOTO: ALAN CHENG

Here comes Santa Claus

Alan Cheng had a great view of Old St. Nick himself at the Santa Claus Parade in Toronto, a holiday event that attracts hundreds of thousands of people every year.

These stories about meeting Santa Claus will get you into the Christmas spirit!

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A sign that reads 'Gone south for the winter'PHOTO: SEAN DONNELLY

Gone south

The most Canadian Christmas tradition might actually be celebrating Christmas somewhere else—say, by the ocean, with a warm breeze overhead. If you’re going to get away, it’s always best to leave a note, as demonstrated here by Sean Donnelly.

Take a look back at this family’s first Christmas in Canada.

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Snowy road with trees on either sidePHOTO: KIM MEYERS

Winter wonderland

Most people opt to get their trees from a local store, but Kim Meyers snapped this snowy shot while on a hunt for the perfect Christmas tree near Brookdale, Man.

Next, check out 20+ holiday decorating ideas from across Canada.

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