Updated: Nov 1, 2020

We know our annual list of public holidays, now here’s some dope on their significance- why we have them, their historical and cultural context, and other interesting facts.


National Public Holidays and Other Important Dates:

(As published in Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship)

New Year’s Day January 1

Sir John A. Macdonald Day January 11

Good Friday Friday immediately preceding Easter Sunday

Easter Monday Monday immediately following Easter Sunday

Vimy Day April 9

Victoria Day Monday preceding May 25 (Sovereign’s birthday)

Fête nationale (Quebec) June 24 (Feast of St. John the Baptist)

Canada Day July 1

Labour Day First Monday of September

Thanksgiving Day Second Monday of October

Remembrance Day November 11

Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day November 20

Christmas Day December 25

Boxing Day December 26


New Year’s Day, January 1:

Simply put, to celebrate new beginnings, to signify hope that the new year would be better than the one/s before. With CoViD-19 upending 2020, 2021 has got to be better than 2020 !

Also, typically a continuation of Christmas celebrations.

Sir John A. Macdonald Day, January 11:

Sir John Alexander Macdonald, a Father of Confederation and Canada’s first Prime Minister was born on January 11, 1815, in Scotland.

As the first prime minister of Canada- the Dominion of Canada, he oversaw its expansion from sea to sea.

In 2002 Parliament recognized January 11 as Sir John A. Macdonald Day.

Good Friday, Friday immediately preceding Easter Sunday:

The day when Christians commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. According to the Bible, on this day Jesus was flogged, crowned with thorns, ordered to carry the cross to Golgotha, then crucified on the same cross and, on it he died.

Easter Sunday is the day on which, according to the Bible, Jesus was resurrected from death. Easter Sunday is therefore a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.


Easter Monday, Monday immediately following Easter Sunday:

The Monday after Easter Sunday.


Vimy Day, April 9:

Our national day of remembrance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, from the First World War.

Vimy Ridge was a high strategic strong point near the town of Arras in northern France, that the Canadian Corps captured in April 1917.

More than 10,000 Canadians were killed or wounded, though.

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial stands as a tribute to all who served their country, particularly to those who gave their lives.

Victoria Day, Monday preceding May 25 (Sovereign’s birthday):

A day celebrating the Sovereign’s birthday: Queen Victoria was born on May 24, 1819.

The Sovereign's birthday has been celebrated in Canada since the reign (1837-1901) of Queen Victoria. If the 24th of May falls on a Monday, the holiday is on that Monday. Otherwise, Victoria Day is celebrated with a holiday on the Monday immediately before the 25th of May.

Fête nationale (Quebec), June 24 (Feast of St. John the Baptist):

Celebrated in a very big way in Quebec, where it is known as la Saint-Jean or la Fête nationale du Québec, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day was a religious celebration, a day to remember St. John the Baptist, a Christian saint and Jesus’ cousin brother.

It took a more patriotic turn in 1834 though, and since 1977 the 24th of June has been celebrated as Fête nationale du Québec, definitively distancing it from religion.

Various francophone communities outside Quebec, across Canada also celebrate Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day.

Canada Day, July 1:

The Dominion of Canada was officially born on July 1, 1867.

Until 1982, July 1 was celebrated as “Dominion Day” to commemorate the day that Canada became a self-governing Dominion. Today it is officially known as Canada Day, the birthday of the country that we know today.

The British Parliament passed the British North America Act, also called Constitution Act, in 1867. Three British colonies in North America—Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canada—were united as “one Dominion under the name of Canada.”


Labour Day, First Monday of September:

Labour Day, the first Monday in September, has been a statutory holiday in Canada since 1894.

It originated in the first workers’ rallies of the Victorian era and then promoted working-class solidarity during the time of rapid industrialization. Today, many Canadians devote the Labour Day holiday to leisure activity and family time.

Thanksgiving Day, Second Monday of October:

Indigenous peoples in North America (Canada included, ofcourse) have a history of celebrating the fall harvest with communal feasts.

This predates the arrival of European settlers who are known to have first celebrated Thanksgiving in North America, in 1578. This initial Thanksgiving ceremony was to celebrate and give thanks for their safe arrival in what is now Nunavut.

The first American Thanksgiving- the Pilgrims’ celebration of their first harvest in Massachusetts happened only in 1621, by the way.

The Thanksgiving holiday is no longer restricted to harvest activities, and has become a day for gathering family to give thanks for their general well-being.

Remembrance Day, November 11:

Every November 11 Canadians remember the sacrifices of our veterans and brave fallen in all wars up to the present day in which Canadians took part.

It was originally called “Armistice Day” to commemorate armistice agreement that ended the First World War on Monday, November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m.- on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

At this precise time Canadians observe a moment of silence to honour the sacrifices of over a million brave men and women who have served and continue to serve Canada during times of war, conflict and peace, and the more than 110,000 who have given their lives for us.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day, November 20:

Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s birthday. He was born on 20th November 1841, in St-Lin, (then) Canada East.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier became the first French-Canadian prime minister (1896–1911) of the Dominion of Canada.

At a time of radical change and worsening cultural conflict, Laurier fervently promoted national unity. Laurier also promoted the development and expansion of the country, encouraging immigration to Western Canada, supporting the construction of another transcontinental railway, and overseeing the addition of two provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Christmas Day, December 25:

Festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s son according to Christian belief.

Initially a purely Christian celebration, Christmas today is more a secular family holiday observed by Christians and non-Christians alike which, over time, has become devoid of Christian elements.

In this secular Christmas celebration Santa Claus plays a pivotal role. In one night, on Christmas eve, Santa circumnavigates the globe flying his reindeer-pulled sleigh at super-speed and presents children everywhere with gifts. Santa Claus lives in the North Pole and, his address is:

Santa Claus,

North Pole,

H0H 0H0,

Canada.

Christmas is also marked by an increasingly elaborate exchange of gifts.

Boxing Day, December 26:

The day after Christmas.

Though a day for Santa Claus to catch his breath after his round-the-world journey delivering gifts, for some reason it is a public holiday in a number of countries.

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Updated: Oct 22, 2020

So, you’ve resided in Canada for the required minimum period- 1,095 days, you applied for Canadian citizenship, and, whaala ! you’re now invited to write the citizenship test. Obviously, you’re very excited. Now what ?

There are time-tested ways by which to ace the citizenship test. Read on…


A Newly Sworn-In Canadian. Oh The Joy !

Preparing For The Canadian Citizenship Test:

First off, you can start studying for the test at any time. Even before you apply for citizenship ! The official study guide- Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship is available online; its always free. And, the guide is available in multiple formats:

• Read it online;

• Listen to the MP3 version;

• Download the PDF or eBook;

• And, you can also order a paper copy of the study guide.

Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship The Official Guide:

As mandated by the Government of Canada, the only official study guide for the citizenship test is Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship, which is available from Citizenship and Immigration Canada at no cost.

First Things First:

Studying for the citizenship test is no easy task despite what your friends, Canadian citizens already, might insist. And, studying is surely NOT just a 3-hour exercise. That is what I was ‘advised.’ The study guide contains about 60 pages of dope, made up of hundreds of unique pieces of information. And, each of these unique pieces of information is a potential question on the citizenship test.

Now, this is not to scare you: From these hundreds of potential questions, you will be tested on only 20. Everything in Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship, unless specifically stated, is important. And testable !

The test is administered in English or French and is 30 minutes long. The 20 questions are multiple-choice type, and true or false questions. The test is usually written but may be oral.

To pass the test you need to correctly answer 15 of the 20 questions; 75 % in other words. Answer six incorrectly and you fail.

So, how do you study so that you ace the test ? And, equally importantly, how do you study so that you retain that knowledge for life ? After all, that is the idea, isn’t it ?

Studying For The Canadian Citizenship Test:

This is what we would like to recommend:

Start as early as you can:

First off, you can start studying for the test at any time. Even before you apply for citizenship ! Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship is freely available online.

When Immigration & Citizenship Canada acknowledged receipt of your citizenship application, they likely also sent you a link to the study guide. You can start when you receive this acknowledgement.

The other time Immigration & Citizenship Canada sent you the link was when you were invited you to write the test. Between the date you receive this invitation and the date you actually write the test, you’ll probably have only 10 to 15 calendar days. Upon receipt of this invitation is the latest you should start; starting later will only make matters harder in many respects.

Start as early as you can.

Consume all the Canadian news you can:

A lot of what you gain here will actually be useful for the test and really living the Canadian way. This applies especially to those of us having prior experiences different from the Canadian way of life. Voting in elections, is one good example. Protection of and equal treatment of men & women and gays & lesbians under the law, is another.

Maclean's is a good source for news. Also check your regional and local news media.

CBC Radio One is a particularly good arena for discussions on Canadian current affairs.

• Visit https://www.canuckcanadian.com/

It is being continuously improved upon, and there are minor chinks which are in the process of being repaired. We reckon the concept is very good, nevertheless. It is optimised for mobile devices. There are chapters from the official guide, and within each chapter are the different topics. Swipe left or right to toggle between topics. Use the menu to move between webpages.

The site will soon also have question banks and simulation tests, among the many other features.

The matter is from the official guide, mostly verbatim. Any additional matter there-in, is what we call ‘Extra Canadiana.’ This is information NOT from the official guide, but information good to know, as a Canadian.

When Writing The Test:

Use the process of elimination if unsure of the right answer:

Under test conditions feeling stressed is normal. If you’re not sure which one of the three or four options provided is the correct answer, pause and use the process of elimination. Carefully read and understand each option, then eliminate the ones that are incorrect.

Check your answers again and again. And again:

It is likely that you’ll finish answering all the 20 questions in just 10 to 15 minutes; you’re given 30 within which to do so. We’d recommend you use the rest of the time to carefully re-check your answers again and again.

Dedicate the entire 30 minutes to the test:

This 30-minute slot for the test, keep only for the test. You may not be allowed to leave the test room before the 30 minutes are over any way. We realize you’re excited to share the news of how well you did. But, social media can wait another 30 minutes. Re-check your answers instead.

In Conclusion:

Do not only aim to correctly answer all 20 of the 20 questions, aim to learn such that you retain and use that knowledge for life.

And celebrate your writing the citizenship test. Soon, you will also celebrate your becoming a Canadian. And know this: these’ll be the first of many celebrations coming up.

All the best !

And, welcome new Canadian !

Welcome home !

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