Family Day is observed in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan on the third Monday of February. In British Columbia, Family Day falls on the second Monday of February. This holiday celebrates the importance of families and family life to people and their communities.
Family Day gives people time to spend with their children. ©iStockphoto.com/matka_Wariatka
What do people do?
On Family Day, many people plan and take part in activities aimed at the whole family. These include visiting art exhibitions, watching movies, skating on outdoor ice rinks, playing board games and taking part in craft activities. Some communities plan special public events, and art galleries and museums may have reduced price or free entry.
As the weather is usually very cold in February, hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies are popular snacks. Other people use the long weekend as an opportunity for a short winter break or to travel to visit family members or friends. As Family Day falls on the same date as National Heritage Day (except in British Columbia), some people use the day to explore their personal heritage and family history.
In the provinces of Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Brithsh Columbia many people have a day off work and schools are generally closed on Family Day. Many businesses and organizations are closed, but post offices may be open. Public transport services may run to their usual or reduced timetables.
In the province of Manitoba, the third Monday of February is a general holiday, known as Louis Riel Day. Many people have a day off work and school and many businesses, organizations and stores are closed. In some communities, stores are open after noon. Public transport services may run to Sunday or holiday timetables. In rural areas, there may be no services.
In the other provinces and territories of Canada, Family Day is not observed, and neither the third nor the second Monday in February are holidays there. Businesses, organizations, schools and post offices are open as usual and public transport services run to their normal timetables.
Family Day was first held in Canada in the province of Alberta in 1990. It is supposed to reflect the values of family and home that were important to the pioneers who founded Alberta, and give workers the opportunity to spend more time with their families. Family Day was introduced in Saskatchewan in 2007 and in Ontario in 2008. British Columbia observes Family Day as a statutory holiday for the first time in 2013. One of the reasons for introducing Family Day was that there was a long period when there were no holidays from New Year’s Day until Good Friday.
Holidays to celebrate families are also held in other places around the globe. In the Australian Capital Territory, the first Tuesday of November is known as Family and Community Day. In South Africa, the day after Easter Sunday is Family Day..