Most Torontonians identify themselves as Christian so it’s only logical that Christmas events dominate this month. But Toronto has other parts of the world to experience too. We’ve included all these events for people who might want to do something outside their own cultures. We’ve left out the lavish, expensive galas. Most of the following suggestions are free:
Canada. Christmas. December 25. Originally, this was a religious day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity. 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 as gift-giving is a big part of the festival. 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 the less fortunate around the world.
Controversy surrounds the greeting “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays.”
All western Christian churches have services. You might want to celebrate Christmas by going to a church service. At most Christian events, volunteers pass around collection plates — but some people ignore them so you could consider these services also free — if you want. If you don’t understand their language, you can always meditate, enjoy the music, absorb the traditional atmosphere, and think about how global the Christian community is. For example:
Germany: First Evangelical Lutheran Church, 116 Bond Street. http://firstelc.ca/
Portugal: St. Helene’s, 1680 Dundas Street West. Tel. 416-531-8188; https://sthelensto.archtoronto.org/
Denmark. Danish Lutheran Church, 72 Finch Avenue West. Email: elctoronto@rogers. Tel. 416-222-2494. https://danishchurchtoronto.ca/#contact
Tamil. The Song of Bethlehem. December 22. 6pm. Tamil Christian Church of Canada, 3 Clayton Drive, Markham.================================================
Iran. Zoroastrian. Yalda (Winter Solstice). Yalda & Fasli Daygan. December 21. 6:30pm.$10-$15. Main Hall, Zoroastrian Temple, 3590 Bayview Avenue. https://zso.org/event-3671579?CalendarViewType=1&SelectedDate=12/20/2019
Jewish. Hanukkah/ Chanukah. Begins the evening of Sunday, December 22 and ends the evening of Monday, December 30. Jewish celebration commemorating the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the second century B.C. Also known as the Festival of Lights. This is primarily a family celebration. One candle is lit on each evening of the holiday, traditional foods are eaten, and gifts are exchanged. For Hanukkah and other Jewish events you could attend, see: https://jewishtoronto.com/calendar
Jewish. Lighting of the Menorah. December 22. Free. Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West.
For exact time, please contact: https://www.toronto.ca/311/
Jewish. Menorah Lighting Ceremonies. Free. December 23. 3:30pm. Vaughan City Hall, 2141 Major Mackenzie Drive West; December 29. 3:30pm. Garnet A. Williams Community Centre, 501 Clark Avenue West, Thornhill. See: http://www.vaughan.ca/events/festive_celebrations/Pages/default.aspx
Metis. Stomp the Floor: Metis Fiddler Quartet. December 27. 7-8pm. Call 416-395-5639 to register for this free program. Auditorium, North York Central Library. 5120 Yonge Street. North York Centre subway station.
Discover the history of the Metis people in Canada through fiddle tunes and songs passed down by Indigenous elders from across the country. https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/search.jsp?Ntt=Stomp+the+Floor%3A+Metis+Fiddler+Quartet
Muslim. Jami Mosque 50th Anniversary: The Oldest Mosque in Toronto. Saturday, December 28. 11:30am-Saturday, December 28. 5pm. Free. Jami Mosque Toronto, 56 Boustead Avenue. (Dundas West subway station) .
For other Muslim events: https://muslimlink.ca/events/toronto. ========================================================
Pagan. 30th Annual Kensington Market Winter Solstice Festival. December 21. Meet at 6:30pm. Free. Kensington Market. 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 all families. You don’t have to be Pagan to join. In previous years the parade wound its way through the market to Alexandra Park at Dundas and Bathurst for a bonfire finale. For more information and where to buy lanterns if you so wish: https://www.redpepperspectacle.com/2019-winter-solstice-festival.html
Toronto. Christian. Community Christmas Day Dinner. December 25. 3–4:30pm. Free. Donations appreciated. Calvary Baptist Church, 72 Main Street.
“This event is open to anyone who would like to share a Christmas meal together.
“Contact email@example.com for more information.” https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/community-christmas-day-dinner-tickets-82375197433?aff=ebdssbdestsearch
Toronto Christmas outdoors. Look for our amazing Christmas lights. Much of Toronto has turned into a city of giant plastic balloons inspired alas by Hollywood cartoons.
We only found one outdoor pageant this year. Our churches mainly celebrate the Christmas message of love and forgiveness indoors where it’s warm.
Bethlehem on Yonge. December 24. 4pm. Free. Yorkminster 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. https://www.facebook.com/events/588991311875582/
A Community Christmas. Monday, December 24. 5-6pm. Free or by donation. Metropolitan United Church, McGill Square, 56 Queen Street East.
“We gather outside around the fire pit and then move into the sanctuary with music. This will be a casual service with stories, singing and hot chocolate. Welcoming for all ages.
“Please note that this year’s service will feature no furry and/or fuzzy friends (live animals), but simply the neighbours around us!” https://www.metunited.org/events/a-community-christmas
The Christmas Story. December 20-22. Suggested Donation:
$25 adults / $5 children (17 & under). Indoors. The Church of the Holy Trinity, West side of the Toronto Eaton Centre at 19 Trinity Square. https://www.thechristmasstory.ca/
Toronto. Volunteering. Some Toronto folk prefer to volunteer at a homeless shelter or seniors’ home during the holiday season.
Among agencies needing volunteers are:
China. Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care, 2311 McNicoll Avenue, Scarborough. Branches also in Mississauga and Markham. https://hypjobs.ca/job/1493902/Kitchen-Volunteer?
First Nations. Native Canadian Centre, 16 Spadina Road (Bloor & Spadina). https://ncct.on.ca/volunteer/
Italy. Villa Charities, 901 Lawrence Avenue West. https://www.villacharities.com/long-term-care/villa-colombo/careers-volunteers
Multicultural. Volunteers to help serve dinner to Toronto’s homeless and marginalized. Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, 1307 Bloor Street West. http://www.blcfchurch.ca/
Syrian Refugees. Eleven agencies needing help are listed here: https://www.volunteertoronto.ca/page/HelspingRefugees.
World. Wildlife Photographer of the Year ROM. Now to March 31, 2020. Daily 10am-5:30pm. General admission: $22.50-$28. Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen’s Park.
“Whether you’re a nature lover, aspiring photographer, or simply love a perfectly captured moment, you will appreciate the talent and technical expertise required to photograph such rare and surprising glimpses of the diverse life on this planet.” https://www.rom.on.ca/en/wildlife-photographer-of-the-year-2018
Ruth’s Note: TorontoMulticulturalCalendar.com chooses to promote events that encourage a feeling of community in our culturally-diverse city. Mention doesn’t mean endorsement as we try to include events we think readers will find stimulating in the cultures of other groups and an opportunity to meet people from other cultures. If you go to any of our mentioned events, please send us corrections or an account of your impressions.
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