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Family Day In Canada: Date, History, Meaning And Celebration. Photo KnowInsiders

When is Family Day in Canada?

Family Day in Canada, the third Monday in February, is technically not a national, federally-mandated holiday.

But most Canadians live in areas that celebrate it as a province-level statutory holiday — in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan as ‘Family Day;’ in Manitoba as ‘Louis Riel Day;’ in Nova Scotia as ‘Nova Scotia Heritage Day,’ and on Prince Edward Island as ‘Islander Day.’ For our purposes, we will refer to the holiday as Family Day from here forward.






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Is Family Day a Public Holiday?

Family Day is a public holiday in 5 provinces, where it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

What is open or closed on Family Day in Canada?

Where Family Day in Canada is a statutory holiday, some pharmacies, general stores, eateries, etc. stay open for the general public. Additionally, the places where families can go to celebrate the day, like skiing ranges and such are also functional.

History of Family Day In Canada

Alberta was the first province to observe Family Day, back in 1990. As the next few years ensued, Saskatchewan and Ontario followed suit. In 2012, British Columbia followed as well, changing the date of its celebration from the second to the third Monday in February a few years later to match the date of neighboring provinces’ observances. New Brunswick announced its holiday in 2018. Manitoba, PEI, and Nova Scotia joined the party in 2007, 2009, 2013, respectively. In Yukon, the already-existing Yukon Heritage Day was considered close enough on the calendar to the new Family Day holiday that no changes were made.

As you may imagine, there are no established traditions surrounding Family Day as there are for Christmas and New Year’s Day, for example. But, as the name implies, many Canadians take advantage of the three-day weekend in February to spend extra time with loved ones. Road trips, winter sports outings, and extended family gatherings are all popular ways to observe the holiday. Celebrants find ways to overcome the cold and have a warm and cozy Family Day!

Why do Canadians celebrate Family Day?

Family Day is a time set aside to focus on getting closer to your loved ones, learning and establishing family traditions and values. It was originally created to give people time to spend with their families but it also provides a day off between New Years Day and Good Friday as they are approximately three months apart. It’s a wonderful bonding time for families in participating areas.

What do Candians do on Family Day?

Photo timeanddate
Photo timeanddate

On Family Day, many people plan and take part in activities aimed at the whole family. These include visiting art exhibitions, watching movies, skating on outdoor ice rinks, playing board games, and taking part in craft activities. Some communities plan special public events, and art galleries and museums may have reduced price or free entry.

As the weather is usually very cold in February, hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies are popular snacks. Other people use the long weekend as an opportunity for a short winter break or to travel to visit family members or friends. As Family Day falls on the same date as National Heritage Day (except in British Columbia), some people use the day to explore their personal heritage and family history.

Public Life

In the provinces of Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and New Brunswick many people have a day off work and schools are generally closed on Family Day. Many businesses and organizations are closed, but post offices may be open. Public transport services may run to their usual or reduced timetables.

In the province of Manitoba, the third Monday of February is a general holiday, known as Louis Riel Day. Many people have a day off work. Schools and many businesses, organizations, and stores are closed. In some communities, stores are open after noon. Public transport services may run on Sunday or holiday timetables. In rural areas, there may be no services.

In the other provinces and territories of Canada, Family Day is not observed, and there are no other holidays falling on the second Monday in February. Businesses, organizations, schools, and post offices are open as usual, and public transport services run to their normal timetables.

Family Day in different places in Canada

Photo eParenting
Photo eParenting

Family Day in British Columbia

Since 2013, Family Day was celebrated on the second Monday in February in British Columbia. In 2018, The B.C. government announced on February, that starting in 2019, Family will be held be on the third Monday of February, bringing it in line with other provinces in Canada.

Family Day in Ontario

In Ontario, Family Day isn’t recognised as a holiday by the federal government, therefore federal civil servants do not have the day off. However many stores, city services and attractions in the national capital region will be either closed or operating on reduced schedules.

Family Day in New Brunswick

Announced in April 2017, New Brunswick will observe Family Day on the third Monday in February from 2018. This brings New Brunswick up to the national average of eight paid public holidays a year.

Schools, libraries, provincial government offices, and all administrative offices will be closed today. Many stores and services will also close and public transport will be affected.

Fun activities to do on Family Day

Photo: Family Medical Practice
Photo Family Medical Practice

Have fun in the kitchen

Cooking and baking can be lovely ways to pass the time inside. Holidays are a great opportunity to create family traditions, children will remember for the rest of their lives. Have your kids help make a memorable meal.

Play a board game

Family game night creates lasting memories because they foster a sense of belonging. You can sit around the kitchen table with a bowl of popcorn and a board game or puzzle. Laughing together strengthens the bonds.

Get crafty

Find some great craft ideas online, hands-on activities in a fun and friendly atmosphere with your kids, no matter what your skill level or experience. Just to get to playing, making, and being creative together, you may be amazed at how soothing such a simple activity can be.

Host a Family party

A family party with the theme of dance, music, poem or theatre performance is a great brain break and bond strengthen. It immediately changes the tone of the day and turns everyone’s mood around.

Reading together

Choose a few books to read together with your kids at daytime or bedtime. Check out your library’s website. Many have books, e-books, audiobooks, and so on that, you can get at no cost with your membership.

Snuggle up for Family movie night

Grab some popcorn, blankets, pillows, cozy up on the couch and watch a movie. Alternatively, you could have each person in the family select their favourite movie and you can take turns watching those.

Say “I Love You”

Go around the table and have everyone share 1 reason they love each member of the family. Build strong and positive family relationships with love.

Create a tradition

Chances are your family probably already has some great traditions. However, there is always room for another one. Think about something fun you can do each Family Day and try and commit to doing it every year. Write it down on a calendar so you’ll remember it next year.

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