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Vancouver celebrates diversity during holiday season

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Antwerp Expo, Special Olympics European Summer Games
Santa clause visits the Le Centre culturel de francophone Vancouver Christmas market in 2014. Submitted Photo.

Reported by Emelie Peacock

In the multicultural City of Vancouver, Christmas celebrations come in many different shapes and sizes.

The celebration comes in various forms

Pierre Rivard, executive and artistic director at Le Centre culturel francophone de Vancouver, said there is no one tradition celebrated by all francophones as the community is so diverse. Within Canada, Rivard said French-Canadian Christmas allows for more family get togethers and time to party on Christmas Eve.

Food is a big part of the tradition

On Dec. 24, French-Canadian families attend midnight mass and then head home to open gifts and share a big meal that goes until the early hours of the morning. “It seems like French-Canadians are a little bit more in a hurry, to celebrate Christmas, open the gifts and eat, or find a reason to eat twice,” Rivard said.

Antwerp Expo, Special Olympics European Summer Games
A display of festively coloured macaroons at the Le Centre Culturel Francophone Vancouver Christmas market in 2014. Submitted Photo.

This year the tallest menorah in Canada will be lit during Chanukah celebrations outside the Central Library on Dec. 25. For the 30,000 Jewish people in greater Vancouver, Chanukah is a chance to enjoy foods like sufganiyot, oil-fried donuts, and build community.

“First of all it brings communities together, it shows pride in our heritage and culture and it celebrates religious freedom, that’s the message of Chanukah,” said Esti Loeub, program director at the Chabad Lubavitch of British Columbia.

Giulio Recchioni, cultural director at Il Centro Italian Cultural Centre, said the Italian Christmas is all about food and getting together with family. Christmas is celebrated for three days starting on the 24th, only fish is eaten that day whereas meat are eaten the two following days.

For those who don’t have family around the holidays can get lonely

What Recchioni misses most around Christmas time is family. To counter the loneliness he organizes get-togethers for Italian expats. “We get together for what we informally call “orphans dinners” for people who don’t have a family in Canada and we just get together with that and try to cherish our traditions and our recipes and our food traditions on that day,” Recchioni said.

Check out our list of events to experience how different cultures celebrate Christmas:

Ongoing- German Christmas Market at Jack Poole Plaza ($8)

http://vancouverchristmasmarket.com

Dec. 3– Christmas Concert by Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir ($29/students $12)

http://vwmc.ca/CW%2012-03-2016

Dec. 3– Christmas Bazaar at Russian Community Centre of Vancouver ($2)

https://www.facebook.com/events/1852114388354138/

Dec. 4– Iceland Christmas Bake and Craft Sale at the Scandinavian Community Centre (Free)

http://scandinaviancentre.org/?p=9310

Dec. 9– Danish Christmas by the Fireside at the Scandinavian Community Centre ($10)

http://scandinaviancentre.org/?p=9383

Dec. 10- Lucia Festivites at the Scandinavian Community Centre ($23)

http://scandinaviancentre.org/?p=9271

Dec. 10– Christmas Market at Le Centre culturel francophone de Vancouver

http://www.lecentreculturel.com/en-activity-28

Dec. 10– Christmas Concert by Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir ($29/students $12)

http://vwmc.ca/CW%2012-10-2016

Dec. 11– Children’s Christmas Concert at Il Centro Italian Cultural Centre (Free)

http://italianculturalcentre.ca/blog/events/childrens-christmas-concert/

Dec. 13– Community Choir Christmas Concert at Il Centro Italian Cultural Centre (Free)

http://italianculturalcentre.ca/blog/events/community-choir-christmas-concert/

Dec. 14– Norwegian Family Christmas at the Scandinavian Community Centre ($15)

http://scandinaviancentre.org/?p=9336

Dec. 15– Sausage Making Class at Il Centro Italian Cultural Centre ($35)

http://italianculturalcentre.ca/blog/events/sausage-making-class-9/

Dec. 16– Un Noël à la française cooking lesson and Christmas dinner at the Alliance Française de Vancouver ($105)

http://www.alliancefrancaise.ca/products/2938/

Dec. 21 – Winter Solstice Lantern Festival (Free)

http://www.secretlantern.org/festival/#festival-overview

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