Tradition & Customs in Canada

Tradition & Customs in Canada

Rules of manners and habits

In Canada, many different traditions are cultivated, primarily resulting from the various countries of origin of the many immigrants. The first inhabitants of Canada were Indians and Inuit, whose share accounts today for about two percent of the population. Later, immigrants from various European countries as well as some Asian countries joined. The biggest differences are between the French-speaking area in the east of the country and the larger English-speaking area. But the many opposites within the country have also led to a great diversity and tolerance in the majority of Canadians. For example, the Indians of all kinds of reserves gather each summer for big, exuberant celebrations. In these “pow-wows”, the traditions of the indigenous people are continued with colorful singing and dancing competitions. At the same time, foreign visitors are always welcome.

Holidays in Canada

As diverse as the different cultures in Canada, the holidays are celebrated. Among other things, the Christmas customs differ in the various Canadian provinces. While in the northern part of the country, on the Christmas days, the big winter festival “Sinck Tuck” is celebrated with dancing and singing and gifts are distributed among the Eskimos, it is a tradition in Labrador in the province of Newfoundland to give away beets to children. These hollow out the turnips, insert a candle and light them. The Canadian Atlantic coast, which has been populated by the Scots in the course of history, however, is strongly influenced by the British Christmas traditions. So on Christmas morning, especially English carols are sung. In almost all Canadian households, which are decorated in the Christmas time consuming with numerous fairy lights and Christmas figures, comes on Christmas day, a large traditional Christmas dinner with turkey and a sweet dessert on the table. In addition, the traditional mistletoe must not be missed on the door frame. Further important holidays in Canada are the “Victoria Day” in May on the occasion of the birthday of the British Queen, the Canada Day on July 1st, the Canadian National Day, and Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October.

Jostling prohibited

Despite the predominantly relaxed manners in Canada, traditionally, too much emphasis is placed on punctuality and above all on politeness. In fact, the Canadians, who are also characterized by helpfulness and hospitality, rarely complain and rant. Everyone usually waits patiently until it is their turn. When visiting restaurants, you do not choose the seat yourself but wait until you are guided by the respective waitress to the place. If the ordered food is not eaten, it is even inexpensive fine restaurants usual to pack the leftovers and take them. In addition, cleaning your nose at the table in Canada is extremely rude. There are differences in the greeting within Canada. While in the English-speaking part the handshake is normal,

Smoking ban and “prohibited topics”

In public buildings and transport, smoking is strictly prohibited. In public talks, it is important to avoid comparing Canadians with Americans and to raise sensitive political issues. These “forbidden topics” include, among others, the indigenous people or the extremely explosive environmental policy. Invitations to parties should not fail to bring the host a small gift as a thank you for the invitation. During the meal, conversations about business topics are taboo.



In most jobs rarely a complete suit with a tie for the men or very dignified clothing for the ladies is necessary. Clean, well maintained, “golf Etiquette” is always right, casual & elegant is good. “Clothes make people” is not always quite right in Canada and you have to “empathize” as a newcomer to the respective working environment. Comfort and a pleasant counterpart are more important and much more effective than trying to make an impression through extremely elegant clothing and appearance. That can often cause just the opposite.

Very eye-catching clothing is usually not desired. In summer, good dress shorts are fine for both men and women. Since all offices and service rooms have air conditioners, they can often be very cool in summer. An extra light jacket in the office is always useful. In winter, many people put down their boots (often in a separate room to protect the carpets and keep the rooms clean) and have extra comfortable shoes in the office at hand. The same is true of many schools, where it is often required, especially in winter, that students park their boots/shoes by the main door and have “liners” at their disposal. This is particularly the case in gymnasiums and sports studios, but often also in medical practices. Should, by accident, mud or moisture be brought into the building,


In most households, it is imperative to take off your shoes right at the entrance (or often on your doorstep). That should happen automatically. Only in very rare cases, the homeowner will specify that the guest can start the shoes and only then you should enter the house with shoes. It is also a matter of helping to serve, wash, clean up until everything is back in place after dinner or celebration. It is normal to ask for an invitation, what to bring, wine, salad, dessert or …? In many cases, the host will then specify what is needed. Even if the host says no, you should bring at least a bottle of wine, biscuits, chips or something useful for all.

Behavior as a guest


Very often an invitation to the potluck is pronounced. This means that every guest brings a meal. In many cases, especially companies, then a menu list is set up and each participant signs up for a particular dish, so you do not have too much of a dish and nothing at all from another. These “potlucks” are very popular and are held very often. So the host has hardly any work, the food is interesting and variant and the cleaning up later is quite simple, as everyone takes back his “pot”, washed or unwashed. In many cases you take your own plates/cups/cups and cutlery with you, also to 1. protect the environment from paper/plastic things and 2. save the host work and effort.


Very often, BYOB (Bring Your Own Booze) applies, meaning that everyone brings their own alcoholic beverage, which in turn saves costs and more matches the taste of each participant.


In particular, beverage bottles and containers should definitely come in a separate bag or container and the guest should not immediately see the obvious, please ask or take the initiative! This also applies to workspaces. An initiative is always welcome unless it is bossy or authoritarian. On the whole, it is always about promoting the team and making sure that everyone feels good as an individual.

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