Statutory Holidays

New Year’s Day

Date: January 1st
Type of Occasion: Seasonal celebration

An annual Canada-wide statutory holiday observed on the first day of the year,January 1st. When New Year’s Day falls on a Saturday or Sunday the next working day is considered the legal holiday. New Year’s is celebrated in many ways but commonly this holiday begins the night before, when people gather to wish each other a happy and prosperous coming year. People may dance, sing, and drink a toast to the year ahead. Horns are blown at midnight, and people hug and kiss to begin the new year with much love and happiness. Family-focused activities are also common.


Family Day

Date: Third Monday in February
Type of Occasion: Cultural celebration

There is nothing more valuable to families than time together. That’s why, on thethird Monday of every February, Family Day gives Ontarians the opportunity to spend time with their family.


Easter – Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday

Date: March/April. Varies from year to year
Type of Occasion: Religious celebration

Easter Sunday is celebrated with family and friends.  For children, it is common to hunt for hidden chocolate easter eggs. Christian church services are also held on Easter Sunday.

Most retail outlets and services close on Good Friday, and many also on Easter Sunday.


Victoria Day

Date: Last Monday before or on May 24
Type of Occasion: Cultural celebration

Victoria Day is celebrated on the first Monday before May 25th. It is a statutory holiday throughout Ontario.

Victoria Day is officially the Sovereign’s birthday. The Sovereign’s birthday was first observed in Ontario (then called Canada West) in 1845 to celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria of England (1837-1901).

After the death of Queen Victoria, an Act was passed by the Parliament of Canada establishing a legal holiday on May 24 in each year under the name Victoria Day. An amendment to the Statutes of Canada in 1952 established the celebration of Victoria Day on the Monday preceding May 25, making it the first long weekend of the summer season.


Canada Day

Date: July 1st
Type of Occasion: Cultural celebration

Canada Day is celebrated on July 1st. If it falls on a Sunday, the next day is considered a legal holiday. Canada Day is a statutory holiday throughout Canada.

Canada Day was established by statute in 1879, under the name Dominion Day. It is a commemoration of the day in 1867 that the first colonies of British North America entered Confederation as the Dominion of Canada.

Canada Day is celebrated with barbecues, parades, music, and evening fireworks.


Labour Day

Date: First Monday in September
Type of Occasion: Cultural celebration

Labour Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September and is a statutory holiday throughout Canada.

The Canadian labour movement is the originator of Labour Day. Peter J. McGuire, one of the founders of the American Federation of Labour has traditionally been known as the ‘Father of Labour Day’.

Earliest records show that the Toronto Trades Assembly, perhaps the original central labour body in Canada, organized the first North American ‘workingman’s demonstration’ of any significance for April 15,1872. The parade marched accompanied by four bands. About 10,000 Torontonians watched the parade and listened to the speeches calling for abolition of the law which stated that trade unions were criminal conspiracies in restraint of trade.

Soon pressure to declare a national holiday for Labour Day was exerted in both Canada and the United States. On July 23, 1894 the government made Labour Day, to be held in September, an official holiday.

Today many Canadians regard Labour Day as the Monday of the last long weekend of summer. Since the new school year generally starts right after Labour Day, families with school-age children take it as the last chance to travel before the end of summer.


Thanksgiving Day

Date: Second Monday in October
Type of Occasion: Cultural celebration

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October. It is a statutory holiday throughout all of Canada except the Atlantic provinces (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island).

The first Thanksgiving Day in Canada after Confederation was observed on April 15, 1872, to celebrate the recovery of The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness. In 1879, Parliament declared November 6th a national holiday of Thanksgiving.

Over the years many dates were used for Thanksgiving, the most popular was the 3rd Monday in October. After World War I, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving were celebrated on the Monday of the week in which November 11th occurred. Ten years later, in 1931, the two days became separate holidays and Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day. Finally, on January 31st, 1957, Parliament declared thesecond Monday in October of each year to be “A Day of General Thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.”

Most families in Canada celebrate Thanksgiving with a special dinner for family and friends. The dinner usually includes a roasted turkey and pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to look at pioneer life, and it is an ideal time to celebrate the importance of Canadian farmers for all Canadians.


Christmas Day

Date: December 25th
Type of Occasion: Religious celebration

Christmas Day is celebrated on December 25th and is a statutory holiday throughout Canada. If it falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, the working day immediately preceding or following Christmas is considered a legal holiday.

With many Canadians being of Christian faith, Christmas Day is one of the main religious festivals celebrated in Canada during which a wide range of formal and informal gatherings and celebrations are held.

Some of the traditional ways Christmas is celebrated in Canada include church services on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day, decoration of houses and traditional Christmas decorations such as the Christmas tree, the exchange of gifts, sending greeting cards, and the stories of Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus visiting homes on Christmas Eve delivering presents to all the children.


Boxing Day

Date: December 26th
Type of Occasion: Cultural celebration

Boxing Day is celebrated on December 26th. It is a statutory holiday in the federal jurisdiction and in Ontario. If it falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, the working day immediately preceding or following Boxing Day is considered a legal holiday.

The origins of this public holiday vary greatly from what it is known for today. Boxing Day originated when people who attended Christmas Day church services placed money in a special box for the poor. On the day after Christmas – Boxing Day – priests would offer the money to the community’s poor.

Today, it is largely celebrated as a time for family and friends to gather with lots of food and fun. Sports such as college football and basketball are popular on this holiday. Retailers offer big savings on many items, making it the biggest shopping day of the year in Canada.

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