canadian

Exploring Interesting Canadian Wedding Customs
Some wedding customs are as old as weddings themselves.

Examples of longstanding wedding customs would be the throwing of the bouquet, the throwing of the garter belt, and the couple slicing the first piece of cake.

It is no small surprise that Canadians love their country and all of its expansive beauty. Though Canada shares a lot of its culture with countries in Europe and America, there are many wedding customs that exist within the nation that are unique. If you are planning on getting married in the near future, you may be wondering how your fellow citizens go about the process. Recent studies have shown some interesting facts about how modern couples get married.

Long Standing Wedding Customs: The Month of December

Popping the question to your significant other is a big part of the wedding process. Without taking this initial step, you really can’t move forward with a marriage. Engagements are different depending on the culture. This is especially true of when people decide to pop the question to their partners. A study surveying a large number of Canadian men points out an interesting trend in this regard. A vast majority of men have proposed or are planning to propose in the month of December.

Age Is a Number

Wedding customs marriage change as much as the times do. Statistics show that the average age for a woman to get married in Canada in 1950 was 25. This number fluctuated a bit in the subsequent decades, dropping to an average of 23 from the 1970s until more recently. This trend in Canada reflects a larger movement happening among women of all backgrounds. Though this primarily is a shift in Western cultures, women are adopting more professional roles in greater numbers.

Under Pressure

The idea of a wedding has grown a little bit out of control in recent decades. Once, a wedding was simply a union between two people who loved each other. Polls taken of young brides approaching their wedding have shown that a large number of women feel pressured to spend more than they can afford. While you may want to spend a good amount on your wedding, it is important to be sensible with your budget and keep enough cash around to start your life with your partner after the big day.

Making It Your Own

Paying attention to wedding customs and trends can help with planning a wedding that meets your own specific needs. It is important for you to follow your own path. Couples should not caught up in what everyone else is doing.

While you may want to explore popular trends to see what is interesting to you, making your decisions based on what you personally enjoy will help result in the best celebration of your love. Find a way to make your special day a unique experience. This will make it easy to remember fondly for many years to come.

Fascinating Traditions in Canadian Weddings
Catching the bouquet is one of the oldest marriage traditions.

One of the most common wedding traditions practiced to this day is the catching of the bride’s bouquet.

The idea of getting married is nothing new. In fact, weddings are some of the oldest ceremonies to have been documented across all civilizations. There are a lot of traditions that have persisted through the years even if the mentality behind a wedding has changed. In Canada, for example, there are plenty of unique ways of going about the process of marrying your partner.

Common Wedding Traditions

Planning for a wedding requires time and research. Here are a few wedding practices that appear often in Canadian rituals in the current day and age, as well as in other cultures across the world.

Catch the Bouquet

One common tradition found in many weddings is the tossing of the bouquet. Traditionally, this is an act by the bride, who tosses the flowers backwards over her shoulder toward a crowd of single friends and relatives. It is customary for this part of the ceremony to only include women, but shifting attitudes have shown that single men can also get in on the fun if the married couple so wishes. The history behind this act is a bit more interesting than might be first believed.

In older cultures, it was common for single women to tear away a piece of the bride’s dress. This was meant as a gesture of good luck for the women holding the strip of garment. As wedding dresses became more expensive, brides found that it was a bit much to have their families and friends tearing away at their beautiful gowns. The bouquet toss was a custom introduced to ward away women who wanted a piece of luck and provide them with a competitive chance for their wishes.

Eternal Love

Some traditions are so ingrained in the cultural sphere that it’s hard to imagine another way of going about the process. Rings, for example, are the cornerstone of an engagement and subsequent wedding. There have been many different approaches to the exchanging of rings over the years. Essentially, experts have traced the tradition of the ring back to Egypt in its earliest days of civilization.

The Egyptians would trade rings as a sign of eternal love and commitment. Eventually, due to the conquests of the Greeks and Romans, the tradition was adopted. As civilization expanded through Europe, the custom became more widespread until it reached the height that it exists at now. The custom of wearing a wedding ring on a specific finger can also be traced back to the Egyptians. They believed that the third finger on the left hand was the one most closely connected to the human heart.

White Wedding

A common practice in the modern age is for a woman to wear white on her wedding day. This is actually not as old of a tradition as many might believe. In Western culture, the custom of wearing white began as a way of symbolizing the purity of the bride. This started during the Victorian Era in England and has persisted to the modern day in many countries. What’s more fascinating is that brides across the world wore a multitude of colors on their wedding day before this practice began.

White was a rare color to be seen during a ceremony in earlier traditions. It has lively and vibrant colors being more closely associated with the passion and beauty of shared love. Though it seems that most brides wear white in the current age, the trend is being pushed against. More women are wearing dresses that match their personal tastes rather than taking part in a tradition that holds no meaning for them.

As you plan your wedding, consider the meaning behind current customs. You may want to break from tradition or go with the flow – the choice is yours.

Incarceration Statistics That Should Have all Canadians Concerned
The outside of a prison.

Recent incarceration statistics have shown a dramatic increase in Amerinds and Black Canadians.

In 2014, The New Observer reported concerns about the rising population rates of Amerinds and blacks in Canadian federal prisons. According to incarceration statistics, both races were highly over-represented in the prison system when you look at the overall population in the country. Two-and-a-half years later, The Torontoist reports, “There are 70 per cent [sic] more Black Canadians in federal prison than there were 10 years ago…” In addition, Howard Sapers, Correctional Investigator, released his annual report of the status of the prisons. He found that from 2005 to 2015 the overall population in the correction system in Canada grew by 10 percent. The Aboriginal inmate population grew by more than 50 percent. This phenomenon was evident in both male and female populations.

Who Is Howard Sapers?

Why should you listen to Sapers? He was appointed to his position as Correctional Investigator of Canada in 2004. This is his 11th annual report. He is not tied to any political climate, as he has served under two Prime Ministers and under five different Ministers of Public Safety. During his tenure in his position, his team has responded to over 200,000 complaints and calls. Sapers has provided testimony to many different Parliamentary Committees and responded to criminal justice reforms handed down by the government. He believes in human dignity and decency even for those who are deprived of their liberty. Sapers is an advocate for a fair and rational criminal justice system.

In his message of his annual report, he breaks down the incarceration statistics even further, offering some interesting statistics:

  • Twenty-five percent of the prison population is now 50 or older.
  • Only about 40 percent of inmates have a formal education of grade eight or higher.
  • Sixty percent of inmates have not graduated high school.
  • Sixty percent of female inmates require prescription medications to manage their mental health needs.
  • Seventy percent of female inmates report histories of sexual abuse.
  • Eighty-six percent of women in the prison system report physical abuse at some point in their lives.
  • Eighty percent of the male inmates have experienced addiction and substance abuse.

Is Racism the Problem?

The Torontoist reports that the high rate of blacks in prison is due to racism and over-policing. In Canada, blacks make up about three percent of the general population but 10 percent of the prison population. Indigenous Canadians make up 24.4 percent of the federal prison population but only 4.3 percent of the general population. This is not a problem just in Canada. In the United States, the numbers aren’t quite as pronounced, but African-Americans make up 13 percent of the general population and account for 37 percent of the prison population.

One local lawyer is calling for an initiative similar to the 1991 Aboriginal Justice Strategy that was created to address the growing population of Indigenous Canadians in the prisons. It offered restorative justice and diversion programs and alternative sentencing. In 2011, a report was issued that outlined the success of the AJS. It had this to say:
“Evidence that the long-term outcome of the AJS of ‘reduced crime and incarceration rates in communities with funded programs’ is being achieved is evident through the results of the recidivism study, which found a significant difference between rates of re-offending of AJS-funded program participants and a comparison group.”

Unfortunately, these same outcomes are not being seen in the prisons.

Are There Solutions?

Some might say that criminals get what they deserve. They do have to pay for their crime, but when you look at some of Sapers’ findings, one has to wonder if the solution starts with ensuring people have an education and that their mental health needs are taken care of. Women who are abused need help to improve their self-confidence and outcomes. Things won’t change overnight, but these statistics should concern everyone.

Save

Organ Donors and the Demand for Them
An organ donors organ being prepped for transplant.

Simply by signing up to be an organ donor, one can help give the gift of life to someone in need.

The world’s first single and double lung transplants were performed in Ontario in 1983 and 1986 respectively. Canada is a leader in the field of transplantation when it comes to medicine and technology, but when it comes to the number of organ donors, we’re lagging behind the rest of the world, including the United States.

In the last 10 years, the number of deceased organ donors has increased in Canada, but the number of people needing transplants has also increased. In 2014, there were more than 4,500 people waiting for organ transplants. Doctors performed 2,356 organ transplants, and 278 people died waiting for an organ. Kidney transplants account for 77 percent of the need.

Surprisingly, 90 percent of Canadian citizens support organ and tissue donation. It’s something practically everyone agrees on, but according to the Canadian Transplant Society, only about 20 percent of the population has actually made plans to donate.

Qualifications for Organ Donors

Don’t discount your health, age or other factors when determining whether you should be a donor. Your health today doesn’t determine whether your organs qualify to be donated. There are many different organs that can be donated. Your organ donation could save up to eight lives. Tissue donations could improve the quality of life in up to 75 different people. Also consider the improvement in life quality for the families and friends of those individuals who are helped.

There are many myths about organ donations. Some people worry that the hospital staff won’t work as hard to save your life if they know you’re an organ donor. This is simply a myth perpetuated by the tabloids, urban legends and television. Doctors have to focus on your life, not the life of another person.

Another myth that is perpetuated by the tabloids is that you may not really be dead. Doctors perform even more tests on organ donors to determine that they are really dead than they might on someone who hasn’t agreed to organ donation.

If you’re concerned about your religion’s position on organ donation, check with your clergy. Most major religions support organ donation, but you should discuss your theological concerns with someone who is knowledgeable about the tenets of your faith.

Legally, children cannot decide to be an organ donor, but children do die every day, and other children are waiting for organs from smaller people. Parents and legal guardians can give permission for children to be organ donors. There’s no denying that it is a difficult decision. Thinking about your position on organ donation before something happens is one way to have peace about it if it ever happens that you do need to make the choice. 

How to Register

Registering to be an organ donor is the most effective method of identification. You may lose a wallet card, or it might be unavailable when it is needed. Telling one family member is recommended, but again, in the stress of the moment, your decision may be forgotten. Registration is quick and easy.

It actually takes very little time to register as an organ donor. In Ontario, the website is beadonor.ca. You’ll need your health card number and some basic information about yourself. If you’re in another province or territory, the Government of Canada’s website, under health, diseases and conditions, has links to instructions for your place of residence.

Loved ones are asked about your wishes at your death, which is why it’s important to talk to them about your decision. The Canadian Transplant Society has some resources to help you talk to your family, and it offers an End of Life Wishes form for download. Make a difference in people’s lives after your death by choosing to be an organ donor. Get informed.

 

Save

A Canadian Honeymoon
Canadian Honeymoon

Canadian Honeymoon

Not everyone has the money to go to some exotic overseas location on their honeymoon. There’s plenty of great places right here in Canada that don’t require a passport or long flights across the country. Spend your time exploring this beautiful country instead of traveling to some remote destination where you have to spend the first day recovering from jet leg. Here are some ideas you may not have thought about for your post-wedding vacation.

Whitehorse, Yukon

Come see the Northern Lights and enjoy the most romantic view on the planet when you visit this capital city. With a population of less than 30,000, you’ll have plenty of privacy for romantic walks along the historic sites or at the outdoor attractions. There are a number of trails available for both motorized and non-motorized travel. For a peaceful honeymoon in the great outdoors, Whitehorse is a great place.

Montreal, Quebec

The second largest city in Canada, Montreal is the ninth largest in North America. It’s home to all types of music, but is probably best known for producing jazz musicians. There’s plenty of art museums and architecture if you want to get some culture on your honeymoon. Montreal is also home to a number of sports teams. Depending on the season, you’ll have lots of options for great outings to make exciting memories.

Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick

Home to the highest tidal range in the world, Bay of Fundy is a romantic getaway for brides and grooms everywhere. Take a walk along the beach or kayak down one of the many rivers when the tide is high. Visit a winery for a special bottle to take home, or enjoy whale watching during the right season. Bikes are available for rental to enjoy the rustic villages and trails during the day. Small communities offer unique restaurants and local artisan work for souvenirs.

Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver is the eighth largest city in Canada, but named as one of the top five cities worldwide for livability. You’ll have indoor and outdoor options, with luxurious accommodations developed when Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics. Art, music, and shopping are close at hand if you want to experience an urban getaway, while skiing and other outdoor sports complexes are within driving range for an active day of fun. You can explore the beach or the forest, both in the same day if you like.

Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

For a natural vacation near glacial formations, the fishing village of Peggy’s Cove offers fresh seafood, lighthouses, and ocean walks. Stay at one of the inns or cottages along the beach to wake up to a sunrise over the bay or enjoy the sunset right from your own dock. There’s plenty to do and see, or you could just pack a picnic and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.

Quebec City, Quebec

As one of the oldest cities in North America, Quebec City is one of the prettiest with a number of historical landmarks. Enjoy the Parc Aquarium du Quebec on one of your dates. Come see hundreds of animals unique to North America and learn about the conservation efforts to protect the environment. For a more urban getaway, go shopping or enjoy the numerous nightclubs. If you enjoy sports, you’ll find professional teams of all kinds. There’s so much to see and do to make memories in Quebec City when you’re on your honeymoon.

Banff, Alberta

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Banff, Alberta is a small town in the Alberta Rockies. It sits 1,400 meters above sea level, making it the community with the second highest elevation in Alberta. Come for the hot springs or the outdoor sports. It’s a resort town with plenty to keep the two of you busy. There are a number of hotels and cottages offering accommodations all year long.

New Year, New Wedding Traditions

canadian wedding blog 12.13.13Recognizing Old and Creating New Canadian Wedding Traditions

Weddings are one of the most fascinating cultural events for people all around the world. Every religion, country, and ethnic group has distinct traditions associated with weddings. Some wedding traditions require the pomp and circumstance of an ordained minister that has spent years learning theology and who is familiar with a specific sacred text. Other traditions are newly made by couples who are ready to make the world their own. Canadian wedding traditions are similar to many of those in Western culture.

A Typical Canadian Wedding

It is a little silly to label any one specific wedding style as typical. In the past, religion has dictated what is important in a wedding ceremony and what is not. A large and historic church, such as the Catholic Church, has specific ceremonies that accompany a wedding. In fact, they have important ceremonies for many things. One such holy rite was held on December 8th of 2013 as the NotreDame de Quebec Basilica received holy bronze doors that were to be opened after a priest knocked three times. Once the ceremony ends, the doors are sealed for at least 25 years, if not longer.

Non-Denominational Traditions

Even as children, many young women dream of their wedding day and once engaged, they excitedly plan every detail. Canadians host what is known as a Trousseau Tea. Although not a particularly common practice, sewing a trousseau was very important to English women and some other European countries for many hundreds of years. Since cloth was precious, and a woman wanted to be able to bring lily while linens with her to her marriage, a girl would begin saving sheets, dresses, table cloths, etc., for her marriage. Now, instead of sewing bed sheets, Canadians prefer to host a luncheon or dinner for friends that cannot make it to the wedding ceremony. This special Tea could be described as making good memories with which to enter a marriage instead of linens. This is a Canadian wedding tradition that does not belong solely to any one religious denomination.

Saying Special Vows

A very common practice among married couples in Canada and around the world is writing their own vows before their wedding ceremonies. These vows can be anything a couple would like to promise one another. Ceremonies that contain personalized vows are able to be overseen by anyone who is ordained to perform weddings. There need not be any association with religion if the couple does not wish it. One of the most freeing options for any soon-to-be wed couple is the possibility of creating their own Canadian wedding traditions. Women and men are often excited to begin new lives starting with matrimony, and what better way is there than to start than with brand new traditions that can be passed on to their own children.