We’ve taken it upon ourselves to provide you with some ammunition, well, at least if you’re from Halifax or Barrie — Canada’s two cheeriest cities. If you’re from Montréal, we recommend avoiding Christmas spirit discussions at all costs. And if you’re from Edmonton or Calgary, take a break from arguing about the Oilers and the Flames to bond over the fact that you live in two of Canada’s most Christmas-spirit-y cities. Aww, isn’t that nice?
Let’s take a closer look at the data to see how Canada’s 25 most populous cities rank for Christmas spirit.
Show Me the Halifax
If you’re from Halifax, Nova Scotia, congratulations. Your city takes the figgy pudding for being the Canadian city with the most holiday spirit, scoring an impressive 65 out of 75 in our rankings.
Haligonians rank their city 7.2 out of 10 for Christmas spirit, which is only slightly better than the overall average ranking of 6.7. However, Halifax blows the other cities out of the water when it comes to event participation. A whopping 38.1% of Halifax residents say their city’s holiday events and parades are unique, and 28.6% say that light displays throughout the city make Halifax a sight to see during the Christmas season.
Residents of Halifax also spend a median of $625 on gifts, holiday food, and decorations during the holiday season, second only to people from Oshawa, Ontario, who spend a median of $750. Both city’s residents spend way more than the national median of $375. Maybe we should all include our long-lost cousins from Oshawa in the Secret Santa after all.
People from Halifax are also more likely to participate in their city’s community events than the residents of most other cities. An impressive 57.1% of respondents from Halifax say they participate in Christmas events and markets in their city, putting it behind only Brampton, Ontario (66.7%), Oakville, Ontario (60.0%), and Richmond Hill, Ontario (60.0%). Way to go, Ontario.
The runner-up is Barrie, Ontario, which scores better than Halifax on Christmas activity participation but falls behind in holiday spending and holiday-related social media activity.
Kelowna, British Columbia, is also not far behind in third place, scoring near the average in event activity and Christmas spending but knocking it out of the park in holiday spirit on social media.
The Christmas Spiritometer
We already know that Halifax is the overall winner, but which city has the most Christmas spirit, according to its residents? Calgary. The answer is Calgary.
Residents of Calgary, Alberta, rank it 7.4 out of 10 when asked how much Christmas spirit their city has. Edmonton, Alberta, is next, with a score of 7.3, and our overall champion, Halifax, comes in third with a score of 7.2. It’s nice to see that Calgary and Edmonton can agree that Christmas is a wonderful time of year since Lord Stanley knows they can’t agree on hockey.
Interestingly, Calgary and Edmonton don’t rank near the top of the list at all in Christmas spending. Calgarians and Edmontonians spend $400 and $375 on Christmas each year, respectively, which is right around the Canadian average. It seems to us that maybe Albertans have the true meaning of Christmas all figured out.
To gain some insight into what gives people from Calgary and Edmonton so much local spirit, we looked at how they spend their time around the holidays. Common responses include community bonding at the local ice rink, participating in traditional Christmas markets, and attending light displays. Conspicuously missing from that list are any mentions of presents, sales, or commercialism. Imagine that.
Things aren’t so rosy across the country in Windsor and Toronto, the two least-spirited cities in our ranking. Residents of Windsor rank their city a dismal 5.0 out of 10 for Christmas spirit. Toronto doesn’t fare much better, narrowly avoiding the bottom spot with an average Christmas spirit rating of 5.1.
What’s interesting is that Ontario is home to two of the top five cities — Hamilton and Kitchener — but also two of the bottom five cities—Windsor and Toronto. Ontario also has the top three most active holiday participation of all Canadian cities, which suggests that the province’s Scrooges are concentrated in Windsor and Toronto.
Halifax sits atop the tree as Canada’s Christmas capital, edging out Barrie and Kelowna to take the crown. Halifax only wins the holiday spending category, but its strong placings in both holiday activity participation and Christmas social media activity boost it into the number one spot.
While Halifax wins overall, technically speaking, for pure holiday spirit, Calgary is the number one city, narrowly defeating its provincial partner, Edmonton. We think our more nuanced analysis is better for capturing each city’s underlying Christmas enthusiasm. Still, it’s interesting to note that the top two cities for holiday spirit, according to the people who live there, are both in Alberta. Maybe the rest of us could learn a thing or two about Christmas from our friends from Wild Rose Country.
To create the Christmas spirit ranking, we pulled information from local event listings on TodoCanada.ca for the top 25 cities in Canada (by population) for the 2023/2024 holiday season. We also used hashtag data from social media, as well as data from the Retail Council of Canada to get estimates on holiday spending. We then ranked these cities by how active residents are in holiday festivities and gift-giving.
Additionally, we surveyed 2,000 people from those cities in November 2023 to learn about how they celebrate Christmas. We then analyzed the results and compiled the statistics to create overall Christmas spirit scores for each city. The median age of respondents was 32. Just over half (51%) were female, 47% were male, and 2% identified as non-binary.
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