What is Canada Day?
Canada Day, “Fête de Canada” or the Day of Canada is a national holiday marking the anniversary of the union of the three North American colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, as a commonwealth, through a constitutional act. The three colonies formed a dominion which was part of the British Empire. Initially, this day was known as “Dominion Day”, but the name was changed in October 1982 and is now officially known as Canada Day.
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When is it?
Although Canada Day has been celebrated every year since July 1 1867, independence from England was not officially obtained until 1982. Despite this, July 1, is the national day of Canada and like all birthdays, Canadians all over the country show their pride for their history, culture and achievements. In the “Canada Day Challenge”, the government invites children between 8 and 18 years old to use their creativity to artistically express what Canada means for them.
History of the celebration
Before the 19th century, the Canadian territories belonged to France and England. July 1 1867 represents the autonomy of the three colonies as a dominion with its own rights within the British colony (which is why the day was originally known as Dominion Day).
As a British colony, Canada had political and governmental control over its affairs. The British Parliament has control over certain areas such as international relations, national defence and constitutional changes. Over the years, Canada gained more independence until it officially became a state following the 1982 constitutional act which served to nationalise its own constitution.
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Starting as the anniversary of the Confederation, Dominion Day and subsequently Canada Day, has been chosen as the date for many important events:
The inauguration of the Canadian National Railway (1927).
The first television transmission of the “Canadian Broadcasting Corporation”, with the traditional Dominion Day speech and concert of the Governor General Vincent Massey (1958).
The first colour television transmission in Canada (1966).
The founding of the Order of Canada (1967).
The establishment of “Oh Canada” as the national anthem (1980).
How is it celebrated?
Canada Day is mainly celebrated in the cities. There is no traditional recipe or specific tradition to celebrate Canada Day. The local governments organise outdoor events such as parades, carnivals, barbecues, breakfasts, concerts, air and sea shows and, of course, fireworks.
The streets have a patriotic atmosphere and the national flag is dominant. People paint their faces the national colours of red and white. The celebrations in Ottawa, the Canadian capital, include parades, concerts and cultural exhibitions on Parliament Hill and are attended by many national leaders like the Prime Minister. Moreover, it is a special day for many immigrants, since July 1 is when the citizenship ceremonies take place.
See also: Social Etiquette in Canada
Canadian expatriates generally organise Canada Day activities where they live:
In Hong Kong Canada Day (Canada D’eh) is celebrated on June 30 and is attended by around one thousand people every year.
In the Canadian armed forces’ bases in Afghanistan.
In Mexico, the celebration takes place in the Royal Canadian Legion in Chapala and in the Canadian Club in Ajijic.
In the United Kingdom, since 2006, Canada Day is celebrated in Trafalgar Square in the presence of important leaders in the country, such as members of the Royal Family.
In the province of Quebec, Canada Day takes place the same day as the termination of many apartment rental contracts, so many people are moving between districts and cities. This moving day used to be in May, but it was changed to July in 1973 so that it didn’t coincide with the children’s school term.