In Canada we follow the Gregorian calendar which has 365 days in the year, divided into 52 weeks and 12 months.

During the calendar year there are numerous holidays and other special days that are celebrated in Canada and NL.

Commemorative Days for Newfoundland and Labrador Communities

Increasingly, employers and workplaces in Newfoundland and Labrador encourage celebrating and commemorating a more diverse set of holidays and events to include those recognized by other cultures.

By embracing diversity, workplaces can help increase social and economic growth and make newcomers feel welcome in their new community.

With the province’s growing multiculturalism, the Provincial Government created a calendar in 2021 that was developed through input from various community groups and organizations in NL and in consultation with the Department of Canadian Heritage: 2021 Commemorative Days for Newfoundland and Labrador Communities.

Statutory Holidays in NL
* Mandatory holidays with pay for most employees

January 1New Year’s Day*
Friday before Easter SundayGood Friday*
Monday preceding May 25Victoria Day
July 1Canada Day*
First Wednesday in AugustRegatta Day
First Monday in SeptemberLabour Day*
Second Monday in OctoberThanksgiving Day
November 11Remembrance Day
December 25Christmas Day
December 26Boxing Day

Statutory Holidays

Some statutory holidays are observed in all of Canada, and some are on provincial level, celebrated only in a specific province or territory.

On statutory holidays schools, government offices, banks, post offices, liquor stores, and most other businesses are closed in NL. However, many tourist attractions, restaurants, and small convenience stores stay open.

There are seven mandatory holidays in NL, when all employees should have a day off, or get extra pay if they have to work on those days.

Some organizations and businesses take collective vacation between Christmas and New Year.

New Year

Celebration of the arrival of the new calendar year is not as big in NL as in some other parts of the world. Still, countdown parties are organized in homes, community centres, bars and hotels on New Year’s Eve, December 31st.

On New Year’s Day, January 1st, some people attend events called levées. A levée is a type of reception unique to Canada, held by the governor general, the lieutenant governors of the provinces, the military and others, to mark the start of another year and to provide an opportunity for the public to pay their respects.

Some events celebrating New Year’s will take place on another date before or after the actual holiday.


Easter is a Christian religious celebration. It falls at a different time each year, at the end of March or beginning of April. Most Christians attend special church services from the Thursday before Easter Sunday until Easter Sunday. The Friday before Easter is called Good Friday and is a statutory holiday. In addition, all levels of government and many businesses and organizations also have a holiday on Easter Monday.

A popular modern celebration of Easter involves the Easter Bunny and the giving of chocolate and other candy in the form of eggs, bunnies, chickens and hens. Families get together to have fun and share meals, and it is a tradition that children wake up in the morning of Easter Sunday and search for chocolate eggs that the Easter Bunny has hidden for them.

Victoria Day

This is a holiday to celebrate both Queen Victoria’s birthday and the current reigning Canadian sovereign’s official birthday. It is sometimes unofficially considered the beginning of the tourist season in NL. Victoria Day is not a mandatory holiday in NL, and most businesses will stay open that day.

Canada Day

This day is Canada’s birthday — a celebration of the formation of the country of Canada. Many communities in Canada celebrate this day with musical events, fireworks, and food.

In NL, families and friends get together for barbecue, and festivities are organized across the Island. The biggest Canada Day celebration takes place on Charlottetown waterfront. It is usually part of the Charlottetown summer festival. The celebration culminates with fireworks in the evening of July 1st.

Labour Day

This is a holiday to pay tribute to working men and women. It is celebrated on the first Monday of September and also marks the last weekend before school starts, on the Wednesday after Labour Day.

Thanksgiving Day

In Canada Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October, at the end of the harvest season. This is a day when Canadians give thanks for things and people in their lives. Many Islanders celebrate it by having a special meal with family and friends. The meal usually includes turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables and pumpkin pie.

Remembrance Day

This day Canadians remember and honour veterans and members of armed forces. It is observed on November 11, to commemorate the official end date of World War I in 1918.


Christmas is a historical Christian religious holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus. Its central message is ‘peace on Earth’. However, in modern day it has also become a celebration of giving and receiving gifts among family and friends. For many Canadians, it is the most exciting holiday of the year.

Many businesses and organizations organize office parties and open houses to share food and have fun around the holiday.

In preparation for the holiday, many families put up a Christmas tree in their homes and decorate it with lights and ornaments. Decorations are placed outside as well, with colourful lights and seasonal figures on houses and in front yards.

Children believe that Santa Claus brings them gifts on Christmas Eve if they have behaved well through the year. They write letters to Santa, who is believed to live on the North Pole, asking him to bring them gifts. On Christmas morning the family gathers around the Christmas tree and opens presents.

Boxing Day is the day after Christmas, where people traditionally rested after the previous day’s celebrations or visited family and friends. However, it is becoming known as a shopping holiday where many retail stores drop prices drastically to increase sales. The stores in NL are usually closed on December 26. The big sales start the day after, and last until New Year’s Day.

Other Holidays and Special Days

Valentine’s Day – February 14th

This day celebrates love and affection. Couples express love to each other, and give each other cards and gifts — usually flowers, heart-shaped candy or chocolate boxes and keepsakes — and go out on dates. Children often exchange Valentine’s Day cards at school.

Saint Patrick’s Day – March 17th

Originally, this day was in honour of the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick. However, over time St. Patrick’s Day has become a social day to celebrate Irish culture. On St. Patrick’s Day, many people wear green clothing, shamrocks and Irish hats. Beware of people drinking excessively and leprechauns (mischievous characters from Irish folklore) on this day.

Mother’s Day – Second Sunday in May

This is a celebration and recognition of mothers. People honour mothers in their family with cards and gifts. It has also become a tradition to treat the mom in the family with breakfast in bed, or a special brunch (late breakfast or early lunch) in a restaurant.

Father’s Day – Third Sunday in June

This day is a celebration in honour of fathers. It complements Mother’s Day.

July and August Special Days

There are a number of parade days in various communities across NL in the summer months. Some businesses close for part of the day during the parade in their particular town or city. Provincial government offices also may be closed during that time.

Halloween – October 31st

This day is based on a Celtic pagan tradition as a time of ghosts, goblins, and witches. However, it has become just a fun day for children to dress up in costumes and walk from door to door in their neighbourhoods, saying ‘trick or treat’ to get candy. Houses are decorated with colourful fall foliage, carved pumpkins, and sometimes scary, but often humorous creatures.

Youth and adults also enjoy Halloween by organizing and attending costumed parties on days leading to October 31.

If you have to work for an employer on a public holiday, you should either get paid extra for working that day, or you should get a paid day off on another day.

Some employers will allow one or more vacation days a year for employees who observe holidays that are not officially observed in Canada, which they can take on a day of their choice.

Some holidays, holiday gifts, cards and decorations have been popularized by companies to maximize profit. Do not feel obligated to participate and buy things you normally wouldn’t.

Related Resources

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