Christmas services Portuguese, Danish or Tamil style. Bringing in the New Year meditating in the Korean or Japanese Buddhist way. These are among the opportunities to experience the world in Toronto during this season.
You can also help encourage Muslim women interested in sports. You can visit an Indian-inspired temple that preaches the sacredness of all sentient beings, not just humans. On Christmas day, you can meet a newsworthy Muslim author as she talks about “active citizenship”.
You can read here about a party with an authentic Afro-Latino-Caribbeen theme, or one organized by a Bengali group, or celebrations at the Japanese or Hungarian community centres. It might be too late to get tickets though.
During this holiday period also, many of our events are out of doors. Look for our amazing Christmas lights. Much of Toronto has turned into a city of giant plastic balloons inspired alas by Hollywood cartoons. Except for the pageants, our churches mainly celebrate Christmas message of love and forgiveness indoors where it’s warm.
Commercial neighbourhoods like Yorkville, and Bloor and Yonge are beautifully lit up at night. You can ice skate – another outdoor Toronto tradition — at Nathan Phillips Square, the Bentway, or on our many outdoor rinks. We even mention special New Year’s eve countdowns for small children.
You can join a Hindu group who chant every New Year’s Eve at Old City Hall. You can support a First Nations rally at Yonge-Dundas Square. Most of our al fresco gatherings are free or by donation. At most Christmas pageants volunteers pass around collection plates but some people ignore them so you could consider these also free — if you want.
Of course, out of door events are weather dependent. Many of the indoor holiday events listed here are expensive but some are also free. Here are a sample of the many happenings available in our culturally-diverse city.
Afro Latino Caribbean. Dancing for a Cause. December 22. 10pm-3am. $10. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bailando-dancing-for-a-cause-tickets-51740042861?aff=ebdssbdestsearch.
Buddhist. Korea. Kindling Light of Wisdom Heart. December 31. 8-10pm. $10 donation at the door. Zen Buddhist Temple, 86 Vaughan Road. “The last day of the year provides an opportunity for reflection and reconciliation. On this occasion, we can step back from our worldly involvements and take stock of our life. The highlights of our New Year’s Eve service will be the rite of removing one’s defilements, a special candle lighting ceremony and a Dharma talk. All are welcome.” https://www.zenbuddhisttemple.org/toronto
Christian. Dramatization of the Christmas Story. Fri, Dec 21 at 7:30pm; Sat, Dec 22 at 4:30pm; Sat, Dec 22 at 7:30pm; Sun, Dec 23 at 4:30pm; Sun, Dec 23 at 7:30pm. Suggested Donation: $25 adults/$5 children (17 & under). The Church of the Holy Trinity. West side of the Toronto Eaton Centre at 19 Trinity Square. https://www.thechristmasstory.ca/
Image from https://www.thechristmasstory.ca/
Christian. Christmas. Bethlehem on Yonge. December 24. 4pm. Westminster Baptist Church, 1585 Yonge Street. Live Nativity pageant with animals, outdoors in the Park followed by hot chocolate and carol singing indoors. 40-minute guided tours of the Stations of the Nativity 4-5:30pm. Website: http://www.yorkminsterpark.com/gather/news-events.php
Christian. Christmas. Nativity pageant. Christmas at Queen. Monday, December 24. 5-6pm. Free or by donation. Outdoors. Metropolitan United Church. McGill Square, 56 Queen Street East. https://www.metunited.org
Christmas. Canada. December 25. Originally, this was a religious day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity. Churches and worshipers 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 Canadians now consider this day only as a time of gift-giving and partying, another turkey day of family feasting.
For stores, the days prior to Christmas are the busiest time of the year. In our 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 can be a time of giving to less fortunate families around the world. Stores, banks, schools, and offices are closed on December 25.
Controversy surrounds the greeting “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays.”
Most western Christian churches have services. You might want to celebrate Christmas by going to a church service of one of our cultural groups. If you don’t understand their language, you can always meditate, enjoy the music, absorb the worshipful atmosphere, and think about how global the Christian community is. For example:
For German: First Evangelical Lutheran Church, 116 Bond Street. http://firstelc.ca/
For Tamil: Tamil Christian Church of Canada, 3 Clayton Drive, Markham. December 25. 8:30am. Watch Night Service. December 31. 10:30pm. https://tamilchristianchurch.com/
For Italian: St. Francis of Assisi Church, in Little Italy, 72 Mansfield Ave. http://www.stfrancistoronto.org/sfoa_2/?lang=en
Christmas. Denmark. Nativity Play and Children’s Christmas Party– Juletraesfest. Sunday, December 30. 10:30am. Danish Lutheran Church, 72 Finch Avenue West. Email: elctoronto@rogers. Tel. 416-222-2494. “… join us for this traditional service and “juletraesfest” with a special focus on the children”: http://www.dlctoronto.on.ca/#contact
First Nations. Idle No More Toronto Round Dance for Indigenous Rights. December 21. 1:15pm. Free. Yonge-Dundas Square. https://www.facebook.com/events/2196806890559308/
Hindu. Hare Krishna: New Year’s Harinama. Outdoor chanting and dancing. December 31. Starts at Hare Krishna Temple, 243 Avenue Road. Ends at Old City Hall. http://iskcontoronto.blogspot.com/2008/12/your-guide-to-new-years-eve-new-years.html.
Holiday Parties: India. Japan. Hungary. Holiday Parties. Many of Toronto’s cultural communities organize parties this time of year. None free. They are usually booked up by now so mark your calendar for next year if they are.
For example, the Prabasi Bengali Cultural Association has a New Year dinner dance on December 31. http://www.pbcabptoronto.org/.
The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre has a New Years Eve Dinner and Dance. http://jccc.on.ca/event/new-years-eve-dinner-and-dance-2018/?instance_id=11980.
India. Jain. Religious services. Jain Temple. Saturdays and Sundays. 10am-12pm. Sunday lunch at 12:30pm. Bhagwan 1008 Adinatha Swamy Jain Temple, 7875 Mayfield Road, Brampton/Bolton. Tel. 416-469-1109. This is the first Jain temple in Canada constructed using traditional Indian architecture. https://www.revolvy.com/page/Brampton-Jain-Temple
Ruth note: I discovered this beautiful, new temple in Bolton near Brampton. We visited it on a Sunday, shortly after noon. This turned out to be a good time because a worship service had just finished and there were people there eager to tell us about their religion. We were able to take photos of the statues and worshipers invited us to a vegetarian meal. If you go, be sure to take your shoes off before you enter the main hall.
Jainism is an ancient Indian religion that believes in reincarnation, and respect for all living creatures. It is known for its ascetics. When I was in India, I saw several men wearing rectangular white masks over their noses. They were Jain monks dressed in white robes. As they walked along the streets with brooms, they gently swept the ground in front of their bare feet… trying to avoid killing living organisms like insects.
Japan. Buddhist. New Years Nembutsu to Welcome 2019. December 31. 9am-12 midnight. By donation. Tao Sang Ha, 375 Jane Street. “… a time to reflect, to take stock of ourselves and the choices we’ve made. It’s a time to change course or solidify our current one. Please join us for a unique New Year’s Eve experience. With the profound teachings of Mahayana Buddhism, learn and experience how to create a bright future for the world and for yourself and build community at the same time.
“There will also be traditional ‘soba’ noodles served to welcome the New Year.” For schedule, see: http://taosangha-na.com/uncategorized/3276/
Muslim. Hijabi Ballers Community Conference. Saturday, December 22. 10-4pm. Start from $10. Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Road. “The Hijabi Ballers community conference will be an inclusive space for community members to learn about and support Muslim female athletes in Toronto, while working to broaden opportunities for them. We are calling athletes, parents, coaches, mentors, friends, allies, community leaders and change makers to acknowledge their role in the sports scene for Muslim females in Toronto and unite with fellow industry influencers to collectively act on the common goal: increase opportunities for Muslim females in sports.” https://muslimlink.ca/events/toronto/event/8675-hijabi-ballers-community-conference
Muslim. Islamic Institute of Toronto Annual Winter Dinner with Dr. Monia Mazigh. Tuesday, December 25, 5pm-8pm. $15-$40. Scarborough Convention Centre, 20 Torham Place, Scarborough.
Canadian author and activist Monia Mazigh speaks about Active Citizenship. She is best known for “… her efforts to free her husband Maher Arar from a Syrian prison. A resident of Ottawa, Ontario, she was the New Democratic Party candidate for the riding of Ottawa South… “ : https://muslimlink.ca/events/toronto/event/8676-islamic-institute-of-toronto-iit-annual-winter-dinner-with-dr-monia-mazigh
Toronto. Early New Year’s Eve Celebrations for Small Children.
December 29. 11am-12pm. Don Mills Library Auditorium, 888 Lawrence Avenue East. “Forget staying up until midnight, kids rule New Year’s at noon! Join us for some Noon Year’s Eve crafts, activities, and countdown to noon! A New Year’s Eve program for the whole family. For all ages. Drop in. No registration required.” https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMEVT352630&R=EVT352630
December 31. Bronte Creek Hike and Kids’ Countdown. 7pm and 7:30pm hike followed by countdown at 8:30pm. Park will close at 9pm. $13.50-$17 vehicle permit. http://brontecreek.org/index.php/the-park/featured-events/new-years-eve.html
December 31. Rennie Park’s Annual New Year’s Eve Skating Party. 9pm countdown for younger kids. 7–10pm. Free. Rennie Park Rink, 20 Morningside Avenue. (Near: Rennie Terrace and Waller Avenue). Hot chocolate, music. 416-392-6796 or 311. http://www1.toronto.ca/parks/prd/facilities/complex/181/index.htm.
Toronto. New Year’s Eve. December 31. Program starts 8pm with ice skating; DJ and live performances; midnight with countdown and fireworks. Free. Nathan Phillips Square. For families. No alcohol. This is the most popular party in town. https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/festivals-events/new-years-eve-at-nathan-phillips-square/.
For more information: https://www.todocanada.ca/New+years+Eve+Fireworks+Toronto/
Volunteering. Some Toronto folk prefer to volunteer at a homeless shelter during the holiday season or deliver Meals on Wheels to home-bound seniors. https://www.blogto.com/city/2018/11/holiday-volunteer-opportunities-toronto-2018/. There’s also Out of the Cold at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, King and University, 73 Simcoe Street. email@example.com. 416-593-5600. http://standrewstoronto.org/serve/
World. New Year’s Eve. December 31. I love to watch the world as cities in each time zone celebrate the new year on television or on YouTube. My favourite is Hong Kong because I used to live there. Its show usually starts at 10:50am Toronto time.
For this and other world cities this year, try: https://www.newyearsevelive.net/ or http://www.earthcam.com/newyears.
Ruth’s note: Sorry I couldn’t find information about Kwanzaa this year until it was too late. It was on December 8.
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