Many of the following free events are indoors but some are out of doors during this Christmas period: a new ice rink to experience, a First Nations drum dance, and the Kensington Winter Solstice festival (if you bring your own lantern). Outdoor Christmas pageants are also free; collection plates are passed around but many people ignore them. No need to feel embarrassed if you can’t afford to pay.
Looking for our amazing Christmas lights and outdoor creches is an adventure. It’s free too except for transportation. You might find some within walking distance of your home. Being out of doors in our winter can be exhilarating. Just make sure you wear enough warm clothes and boots.
Of course there’s some affordable indoor events too besides church services and concerts. In the following list, you can find a free Buddhist meditation lesson too, and the hospitality of a local politicians. You might want to do last minute shopping in a Muslim market.
Can we ignore other humans who are unable to enjoy the season? Have you thought of volunteering at a homeless shelter? Inviting a refugee family to join your Christmas dinner? We’ve included our previous blog on resources that have been helping refugees. From that list, you can decide which can help you express your generosity: https://www.torontomulticulturalcalendar.com/2015/12/10/566-resources-for-those-helping-syrian-other-refugees-december-2015/.
We’ve included a session on what you might be able to do about the Rohingyas too.
Buddhist. Sri Lanka. Sil/Uposatha Program in English. December 24. 7am-4pm. Free. Day of meditation and learning the Buddha’s teachings. Breakfast and lunch provided. No need to register. Buddha Meditation Center of Greater Toronto, 11175 Kennedy Road, Markham. (1 km. north of Elgin Mills). For questions, contact email@example.com or see: https://www.mahamevnawa.ca. For more info: https://www.mahamevnawa.ca/monastery-calendar.html.
Christian. Dramatization of the Christmas Story; Thursday, Dec. 21 at 7:30pm; Friday, Dec. 22 at 7:30pm; Saturday, Dec. 23 at 4:30pm and 7:30pm; Sunday, Dec. 24 at 4:30pm. Suggested donation $20. Church of the Holy Trinity, 10 Trinity Square (next to Eaton Centre). See our Featured Image from: https://www.thechristmasstory.ca/
Christian. Bethlehem on Yonge. December 24. 4pm. Live Nativity with animals, outdoors in the Park followed by hot chocolate and carol singing indoors. Westminster Baptist Church, 1585 Yonge Street. Website for this and Westminster’s other Christmas events: http://www.yorkminsterpark.com/gather/news-events.php
Christian. Christmas at Queen: December 24. 5pm. Free or donation. “See the Live Nativity on our outdoor steps with live animals. Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen Street East.” https://www.metunited.org/jmv4/index.php/events/eventdetail/5884/christmas-at-queen
Christmas. Canada. December 25. Originally, this was a religious day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Churches and worshipers still display scenes of the baby Jesus, the shepherds and wise men who visited him, his mother Mary and father Joseph, and the star of Bethlehem. Many now consider this day only as a time of gift-giving to close friends, and partying, another turkey day of family feasting. One need only look at the difference in size between the tiny creche at Toronto’s Old City Hall, and the nearby shopping palaces.
For stores, the days prior to Christmas are the busiest time of the year and Christmas music is played. In the shopping malls and at parties, many children visit an actor playing Santa Claus to tell him what gifts they want. On Christmas eve, small children believe Santa brings gifts by a reindeer-drawn sled, and slides down a chimney into their homes. Christmas is a time of giving to less fortunate families around the world. Stores, banks, schools, and offices are closed. My Jewish friends say they celebrate Christmas with dinner in a Chinese restaurant.
Controversy surrounds the greeting “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays.”
Most western Christian churches have services. You might want to celebrate Christmas in a slightly different way than usual by going to a church service of one of our culturally-diverse institutions. If you don’t understand their language, you can always meditate, absorb the worshipful atmosphere, and think about how global the Christian community is.
For German, First Evangelical Lutheran Church, 116 Bond Street: http://firstlutherantoronto.com/flc/.
For Italian, St. Francis of Assisi Church in Little Italy, 72 Mansfield Ave.
For Tamil: Tamil Christian Church of Canada, 3 Clayton Drive, Markham.
Christmas. Toronto. Outdoor lights are all over the city in residential and commercial areas. Here’s a list of examples of outstanding lights with photos: http://www.blogto.com/city/2017/12/outlandish-holiday-christmas-lights-toronto-2017/.
England. Toronto English Country Dancers. Annual Winter Solstice dance. Friday, December 22. 7:30-10:30pm. $10. Live music for the dance form of Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Napoleon. Trinity St Paul’s United Church, 427 Bloor Street West. Near Spadina subway station. For this and future dances: http://torontoenglishdance.ca/
First Nations. Idle No More Toronto Round Dance. December 21. 2pm. Yonge-Dundas Square. “Calling all Hand Drummers to join us to sing & drum. On December 21… join Idle No More Toronto & Idle No More Ontario for Round Dance at Yonge & Dundas Square in downtown Toronto.” https://www.facebook.com/events/1867295840250204/; https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/160523613c93c457?projector=1
Muslim. Winter Bazaar 2017. Saturday, December 23. 11am-7pm. Free. Home 2 Suites by Hilton Milton, 8490 Parkhill Drive, Milton. Local businesses, bake sale, cookie decorating, and more! https://muslimlink.ca/events/toronto/event/5830-winter-bazaar-2017
Myanmar. Burma. Rohingya. Lecture | Addressing the Rohingya Genocide: What We Can and Must Do. Professor John Packer. Friday, December 22. 7pm. Free. Auditorium, Noor Cultural Centre. Event co-sponsors: Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa; Studies in Islam, Renison University College at University of Waterloo; Burma Task Force Canada; Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, York University. http://www.noorculturalcentre.ca/
Ontario. Boxing Day. December 26. Once the day to give gifts to the poor, this is now the day for recovering from Christmas, taking unwanted gifts to exchange in stores, and shopping for bargains. Stores are open in Toronto but for many in Toronto, this is a holiday.
Pagan. Annual Kensington Market Winter Solstice Festival. December 21. 7pm. Free. Kensington Market. Free. Highly recommended participatory lantern parade gathers at Oxford and Augusta to celebrate the longest night of the year and the beginning of longer days. Good for families. Starts at 6:30pm and winds its way through the market to Alexandra Park at Dundas and Bathurst for bonfire finale. For more information: http://www.redpepperspectacle.com/2017-winter-solstice-festival.html
Toronto. Ice skating. One new outdoor skating rink is now open, and two other outdoor ice rinks will open soon. Winter at Ontario Place opened December 8 and closes March 18, 2018. http://www.blogto.com/events/winter-ontario-place-toronto/
Grenadier Pond in High Park will start its ice testing program with flags indicating “Not Safe” and “Use at Your Own Risk” in January.
Bentway Skating Trail under the Gardiner Expressway should open on January 6. And, thanks to assisted refrigeration, could remain open until March break. See map: http://www.thebentway.ca/about/project/. More information: http://www.blogto.com/sports_play/2017/12/bentway-skating-trail-under-gardiner-toronto./
Toronto. Some of our politicians have “Open House” where their constituents can drop in, and if time, chat. Upcoming is that of MP Marco Mendicino, December 20. 4-6pm. Free. 511 Lawrence Ave W, North York. Marco is Member of Parliament for the federal riding of Eglinton-Lawrence and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
“Come celebrate all the goodness that the season has to offer as well as to recognize the work of those who have dedicated themselves to building our community… Drop by for the festivities and enjoy some seasonal refreshments with kosher and halal options available.” http://marcomendicinomp.ca/events/2017-constituency-open-house/
Look for your own political representative.
Volunteering. Some Toronto folk like to volunteer at a homeless shelter during the holiday season. It might be too late to find a place now but take a look at:
— https://www.ysm.ca/getinvolved/volunteer/in-a-pinch-volunteers/ – Yonge Street Mission.
— Out of the Cold Volunteers Needed for Christmas Week. This year, Christmas and Boxing Day fall on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. We will be serving our supper on Monday and breakfast on Tuesday as we usually do. Since many of our regular volunteers will be away visiting family members, we need a some extra volunteers to help! If you are available to help on Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day, please contact the Rev. Dr. Bob Faris. St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, King and University, 73 Simcoe Street. firstname.lastname@example.org. 416-593-5600. http://standrewstoronto.org/serve/
Ruth’s note: I missed telling you about several almost-free events because I’ve been bedded by a virus. Please take care of your health. Being sick is no fun. Sorry I couldn’t let you know about Kwanzaa this year. It was on December 15. Usually it’s the last weekend in December. I also missed an Asian event and a Christmas Market from Portugal’s Madeira on December 16. Of course I miss many more, there are so many such events in our city. Please mark your calendar to remind me next year and continue to send us posters and pictures about other upcoming affordable events that give the rest of us a chance to experience Toronto’s exemplary multiculturalism. We don’t charge to post them and we don’t accept paid advertising. We will try to post as many as we can that fit our criteria. Email us at: email@example.com.