Canada: where one wakes to the scent of bacon, which tops the classic eggs Benedict, a typical part of the Canadian Christmas brunch

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 December, 2007, 12:00am

Compromise is an apt word when it comes to celebrating Christmas in Canada. With a vast array of cultures spread throughout the country, most families have to find a comfortable middle ground as they toast the end of another year. Andrew Work, executive director at the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong says the Canadian-Swedes, for example, must have their meatballs and herring, while some Canadian-Chinese families enjoy exchanging gifts but could do without the traditional food. Rather than limiting the entertainment, however, the diversity allows for a more colourful holiday experience. That is not to say that custom is lacking in the festivities. The aroma of roasting turkey rouses appetites in many a household on Christmas Eve, although ham, duck and goose seem to be fading into near obscurity. For dessert, there are usually mince pies, lemon meringue pies, and the ever-popular apple pie. It is also customary to give a fruitcake to friends and family when visiting, but as Mr Work says, it's a dessert one prefers to give rather than receive. It is not unusual to have to plan ahead for Christmas - making restaurant reservations and purchasing event tickets are all necessary steps in a partygoer's agenda. Booking a pew in church is not something that comes to mind when preparing for the holiday season, but due to the crowds of worshippers that flock to church on Christmas Eve, many now sell tickets to midnight mass, ensuring that the birth of Jesus is celebrated in an orderly fashion. Like most other places, Christmas in Canada is a family occasion. The day begins with a range of family customs including finding an orange in the toe of a Christmas stocking along with other small gifts. Canadians, in particular, often wake to the scent of back bacon, known as Canadian bacon in the United States, which tops the classic eggs Benedict, and is a typical part of the Canadian Christmas brunch. While adults look forward to Christmas Day for its festive brunch, children await the day for an entirely different reason. Few things are more appealing to a child than a pile of presents from Santa Claus, and many a Canadian family looks forward to coming together and sharing the gifts stacked under the Christmas tree. The tree itself is almost always an artistic accomplishment, and Canadians take it a step further by chopping down their chosen tree in the wild and bringing it back home where it is covered with an array of bright decorations painstakingly chosen by the children. The end result is usually a slightly dishevelled-looking tree heaped with lights, tinsel, and baubles sprouting crookedly from a carpet of fallen pine needles - not perfectly decorated by any means, but somehow, to the family, that's what really makes it feel like Christmas.