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December 2005

+ Christmas Lights and Beaver Tails +

I went to Parliament Hill to see the Christmas Lights with my Canadian friend on December 1st. This Christmas Lights is a lighting up event across Canada. In Ottawa, the parliament buildings were lit up.

The snow illuminations were moving. It was very beautiful and romantic. After the description of the event by the emcee, of course it was in English and French, the youth choir sang O Canada and some Christmas songs. They were very cute. And the event staff gave me a very nice candle, yeah!

Christmas Lights          The event candle

(The illuminations and the candle)

By the way, there were two lines at Parliament Hill. One was so long and the other was short. The long line was for free Beaver Tails and the short one was for free hot chocolate. My Canadian friend told me that the Beaver Tail is a very popular snack food in Ottawa. It is a flat doughnut that looks like a beaver's tail with brown sugar on it. I had never eaten Beaver Tails. I don't like to make long lines but I had to try Ottawa's taste! Yes, I went to the end of the loooooooooong line.

I got closer and closer. I was looking forward to eating it but I was a little worried because I don't like brown sugar so much X(. After waiting a long time, I finally got to try it. It was good! I overcame the brown sugar. I like not only poutine but also Beaver Tails. Yeah, I like the taste of Canada very much!

+ Christmas +

Now, Ottawa is coloured by red and green. Wherever I go, cafés, restaurants, the local library, or walking down the street, even in the lobby of my apartment, I can see and hear the sites and sounds of Christmas. If you want to avoid anything to do with Christmas, you would have to close your eyes and turn your TV, radio, and computer off and go into your bed putting your fingers in your ears :P

As an adult in Japan, I didn't like Christmas because it was just an imported commercial event. I had to pretend to enjoy Christmas parties even thought I didn't believe in Christmas. It was ridiculous. Almost all Japanese people who celebrate Christmas don't really know about the meaning of Christmas. They just want to drink wine and eat a Japanese version of Christmas cake!

But now, I'm living in Canada and so I'm interested in how Canadians celebrate Christmas. Some Canadian friends have told me they will go to church, volunteer to help the less fortunate, visit with their family, and one of them told me he never celebrates Christmas because of his religion. Yeah, it depends on the person.

And... Last month, I was invited to stay with a friend's family for the Christmas and New Year's holidays in New Brunswick. Of course my answer was YES!

That is why, this year, I will celebrate a Canadian Christmas with an open mind, yeah! So I also made Christmas cards my website readers and friends. I will upload the cards on my website around December 20th. (* I uploaded the cards.)

By the way,

Where is New Brunswick :P

+ Escalator +

I went to the shopping centre to buy some Christmas gifts. While watching the customers going by, I thought about something that I have been anxious about since I came to Canada. It was how to use the escalator.

There is an unwritten rule about how to ride escalators in Japan. In the Tokyo area, people stand on the left side of the escalator and keep the right side free for people who are in rush. This rule applies not only to office buildings, but also to shopping centres. In the Osaka area, the right side and the left side are opposite. There are a lot of explanations as to why Tokyoites and Osakans stand on opposite sides. For example, it is because the first announcement told people stand on the left side in Tokyo and the right side in Osaka, or Osaka applied the international rule when the Osaka Expo was held, etc. It might be a combination of reasons. When I worked in Tokyo, I was used to always walking up the right side even when I wasn't in a hurry. "Walking up the escalator" was my lifestyle in Tokyo X(

Anyways, how about in Ottawa? Right side? Left side?

The answer is no-side! Because nobody is in a hurry in Ottawa :)

Since coming here, I have never heard anyone say "Excuse me," or seen anyone rushing to get up the escalator. If by chance I have to get up somewhere in hurry, I might say "Excuse me" but I still I don't know which side to get up :P

Take it easy!

+ Christmas in New Brunswick +

I came to Pointe-Alexandre in New Brunswick to stay with a friend's family for the Christmas and New Year's holidays. It took around 16 hours to come here from Ottawa by bus through into Québec. After leaving Ottawa, the French language has become more frequent. It was very interesting for me to feel the changing of atmospheres. And now, I'm in a 100% French community! Actually, I can introduce myself in French a little because I have studied French for three months but I don't understand what they say. However, I'm enjoying the French-side Canada because they are really nice!

New Brunswick

I celebrated Christmas with my friend's family and the relatives. I ate homemade grilled chicken, ham, salads, mash potatoes, meat pies, etc. I also drank Acadian beer "Alpine." These were very good! We talked, ate, drank, and sang very much. In general, they celebrate Christmas with their family in Canada.

When all relatives left my friend's house, it was midnight. At midnight, one of the members of my friend's family said "Joyeux Noël" ("Merry Christmas" in French). We said "Joyeux Noël" to each other and shook hands or kissed cheeks. I realised that Christmas is a really important cultural event for them.

By the way, the Christmas gifts were great! In Japan, you know, we get one or a few gifts on the Christmas days. But in Canada, there were a looooot of gifts under the Christmas tree. They bought the gifts for each other and put them under the tree until the 25th. On the 25th, they opened those gifts. (And Santa gave another gift to kids in the Holy night.) My friend's family gave me not only maple syrup and Canadian design T-shirt, but also Canadian design flexible lighter. These are so cool! I gave them Japanese mugs, toys, photo frame with Christmas cards. I wrote the message in French. Yeah! But after opening the gifts, there were a lot of pieces of rapping paper and cardboard boxes... It was also Christmas :P

Anyways, it was a very wonderful Christmas.

The Christmas Tree

Santa Claus came to me this year!

Merci beaucoup! :)

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