A generation or two ago, traditions observed by Toronto’s young families in December and January were surely diverse, but not at all to the extent that they are in the 21st century. The dominance of Christianity inspired preservation of traditions which grew from the family and faith community-focused celebrations of generations of Canadians of European descent. Today’s young families in Toronto have many different relationships to various faiths, and few families have established traditions from their childhood which they will continue with their children. Whether looking to build new traditions or supplement or adapt old ones, options abound.
The spirit of the season is one of giving for many people, Christian or not. Unfortunately, there are so many needy Torontonians, and so many children living below the poverty line in our rich city, that there are numerous charities and volunteer opportunities which parents can adopt as their own. Doing so allows parents to teach children values which are easily lost in materialistic consumer culture, while providing a break from the noise of the shopping mall.
Family tradition can also be made from any event with broad enough appeal for the family to continue to want to do it together year after year. Some families take a long walk on an evening late in December to see the lights and decorations people in their area have put up. For a more formalized version of the same thing, there are events a short drive away like ‘Christmas @ the Farm,’ which features live music, a petting zoo, wagon rides, festive lights and snacks. Downtown, the ‘Lowe’s Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery District features music, ‘Santa’s house,’ and all out Victorian decoration, as well as a market, but is a little less may not have much for preschoolers. Maybe your family’s will make a tradition out of cutting down a tree, or attending one of the many seasonal shows, which can be found in directories like this one from the city website or the usual.
Some of these suggestions will be covered in more depth in this space, and you will know by the slideshows which have been adopted in your humble Examiner’s household. Holiday traditions don’t have to be exercises in teaching cultural heritage; they should actually be things the family has fun doing together. With so many choices, Toronto families can easily find activities which remain satisfying year after year.