Honouring Women Around the World

International Women’s Day: March 8th, 2018

It’s that time of year when we observe International Women’s Day (IWD), and we are thrilled to join Canadians and nations around the world in celebrating women and their contributions towards making the world a better place.

Canada’s theme for International Women’s Day 2018 is “#MyFeminism”, recognizing feminism as an important and powerful global movement which has resulted in the advancement of women. #MyFeminism is inspired by the people who have contributed to shaping Canada into a nation of freedom and equality. From the Canadian women of the 1800s who fought for the right to vote (known as the suffragists) to the advocates and activists of today who continue to work towards positive change, International Women’s Day honours these women.

International Women’s Year Conference – Mexico City 1975. Source: Washington State University

It was in 1975 that the United Nations recognized International Women’s Year. The UN later adopted a resolution designating March 8th as International Women’s Day. Today, International Women’s Day is observed around the globe, and in many countries is a national holiday. As a global day of recognition of women’s achievements and contributions, this day supports an important call to action: advancing women’s rights and gender equality.

Doreen and Susan Braverman

The Flag Shop has a strong heritage of leadership by women, which began in 1975 – fittingly in the same year as International Women’s Year. That was when Doreen Braverman founded the first-ever, full-service flag store in the world. Then, in 2010, Susan Braverman stepped in, purchasing the company and becoming President. Over the years, our business has brought countless opportunities, for women to grow and thrive in many ways, including social advancement, economic livelihood, innovation and creativity.

We love International Women’s because it reminds us where we come from, and provides opportunities to honour the invaluable contributions of our woman business owners of the franchise team: Le Flag Shop Montreal Owner-Manager, Ginette Bazergul; The Flag Shop Toronto Partners, Lilly and Ladan Siahpoosh; The Flag Shop Nova Scotia Owner, Debbie Hartlen; The Flag Shop Edmonton Owner, Phyllis Bright; and The Flag Shop Saskatoon Owner, Judy Denham. Of course, we can’t forget the women of the franchise management team and The Flag Shop Vancouver Head Office, who bring value to the table every day, contributing to The Flag Shop’s lasting legacy.

Source: InternationalWomen’sDay.com

Join us as we celebrate International Women’s Day, to honour and advocate women, and to help create a brighter future for the daughters of all nations! On March 8th, add your own voice to all those who are calling out inequality, by using the hashtag #MyFeminism.

We know of many great events happening across Canada, and beyond! For information, or to attend an event in your community, check out a sampling at the links below:

Ottawa – Edmonton

IWD Walk in Her Shoes

Ottawa: Tuesday, March 6, 2018 – Edmonton: Saturday, March 24, 2018

This event challenges people from all walks of life to take 10,000 steps (7K walk), which represents the distance many women and girls in developing countries travel every day to reach the basic necessities of life, such as water.


IWD Celebration at Bandidas Taqueria

Thursday, March 8, 2018 – As a thriving women-owned business, Bandidas Taqueria, a restaurant on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive, will donate 100% of its profits to local organizations which serve women. It will also launch an art show highlighting feminist themes, which will run until April 21st, 2018.


IWD 8th Annual Luncheon

Thursday, March 8, 2018 – This lunch event will include inspiring keynote speakers Tracy Porteous, Executive Director of Ending Violence BC, and JR LaRose, of CFL and BC Lions fame, and the “Be More Than a Bystander” spokesman, to address the cause of ending violence against women.


IWD Time to Unite

Thursday, March 8, 2018 – Calling all change makers to unite and celebrate women who are making their mark, as they tell their stories, and speak their truths in the name of equality, justice and peace.

IWD Changing Lives Celebration

Thursday, March 8, 2018 – Event highlights include a spectacular fashion show by “Making Changes”, a community of women helping women and teenage girls through life’s transitions, by providing them with skills and resources to support their pursuit of meaningful work. Enjoy musical performances by local artists.


IWD Film Screening of The Breadwinner

Thursday, March 8, 2018 – Attend an all-ages screening of the movie “The Breadwinner”, about an 11-year old girl, named Parvana, living under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Following the unjust arrest of her father, she cuts off her hair and dresses in boy’s clothing to help support her family. Parvana discovers a whole new world of freedom and danger.


IWD Film Screening of Driving with Selvi

Thursday, March 8, 2018 – Watch this epic film, a 2016 Yorkton Film Festival winner, about a former child bride named Selvi. Escaping a violent marriage, she becomes South India’s first female taxi driver. In this years-long journey, Selvi defies expectations and creates a new life of hope.


IWD West-Central Women’s Resource Centre Celebration

Thursday, March 8, 2018 – Join the Women’s Resource Centre for cake and share messages with woman around the globe on their message board, and share your stories of inspirational women, to be displayed at the centre.


IWD Empowerment is an Inside Job

Sunday, March 4, 2018 – International Women’s Day is about unity, reflection, advocacy and action. This group continues to grow from strength to strength. Join the celebration including exhibitors, speakers and door prizes.

Montreal – Toronto – Kingston

IWD Pins for Progress – It Takes Balls to Be a Woman

Thursday, March 8, 2018 – Bowling, anyone? Join an event organized by Bangladeshi-Canadian women, who envision a world in which all girls and women, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, income level, or social status, are nurtured and empowered to reach their fullest potential.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Estonia Celebrates 100th Birthday on February 24, 2018

Canadians Join Estonians around the Globe in Celebration!

It was 100 years ago, on February 24, 1918, that Estonia was proclaimed as a democratic and independent republic. The centenary is real cause for celebration, and a perfect opportunity for Estonians to unite in their efforts to build a brighter future, together.

The first celebration of Estonian Independence Day in Tallinn, Estonia on February 24, 1919. Source: Wikipedia

The Flag Shop congratulates Estonians across Canada and around the globe on reaching this important milestone. On Saturday, February 24 at sunrise, the Estonian flag will be raised in locations across Estonia, to commemorate and celebrate 100 years of independence.

Estonia 100 centenary week brings Estonia’s 100th anniversary celebrations across the country and beyond! Source: Estonia 100

The Estonia Flag
The Estonian flag was officially adopted on May 8, 1990. The blue symbolizes loyalty, and beautiful blue skies, seas and lakes. The black represents oppression of the past and fertile soil. The white reflects virtue, as well as Estonia’s struggle for independence and freedom. How important is the symbolism of the flag to Estonians? It’s important enough to have an actual word for their flag: “sinimustvalge”, which literally means, “blue-black-white.”

Image Source: Estonia 100

Estonian Valtrik Pihl, a Helsinki-based construction worker from Paide, knitted a huge, 160-square metre (1,722-square ft) flag as a gift for Estonia’s centenary, celebrated this year. Source: Estonian World

The large knitted Estonian flag is currently displayed at the Estonian National Museum. Source: Estonian National Museum

Did You Know That in Estonia…?
1. …swinging is BIG!
Estonians take swinging very seriously! In a sport called “kiiking”, invented in the 1990s by a man named Ado Kosk, swingers attach themselves to giant steel swings and rotate 360°, while swinging! This gives new meaning to the phrase, “in full swing!”

2. …people vote online.
Estonia was the first country in the entire world to adopt online voting. They’ve been clicking and tapping to vote since 2007.

3. …craft beer is everywhere.
There’s been a beer revolution in the last few years, taking a popular home-brewing hobby to a way to earn a living! As it turns out, the cost of alcohol in Estonia is lower than its Scandinavian neighbors, so people are known to travel to Estonia just for a beer!

4. …there are only three major cities.
The cities of Tallinn, Tartu and Narva are the only ones with populations of more than 50,000.

5. …space food was first developed.
Space food had its beginnings in a factory located in the town of Põltsamaa, in Estonia, in 1962. This food was produced and packaged specifically for use in space travel.

6. …Skype was born.
Estonians take credit for the invention of Skype. It’s a pretty big deal, and some have been known to joke that the blue in their national flag actually symbolizes the blue in the Skype logo.

7. …the population is mostly female.
Estonia’s population has more women than men. For every 100 females in Estonia, there are 84 males, – which is very unusual – and second only to the Northern Mariana Islands (a commonwealth of the USA).

8. …they have a huge national song festival called “Laulupidu.”
This festival is among the largest choral events in the world. Can you just imagine a joint choir of over 30,000 singers performing for an audience of 80,000?

9. …there is a very high rate of literacy.
Estonia has one of the highest adult literacy rates in the world. Reading in Estonia’s official language, (called Eesti Keele in Estonian), sounds pretty tough to us!

Don’t Forget Your “Sinimustvalge!”
With so much to celebrate, The Flag Shop is here to help you express your Estonian pride! All Flag Shops across Canada carry Estonian flags in a variety of sizes, as well as lapel pins, crests, and decals. If you’re looking for a particular item, let us know, because we think you’d be surprised to learn what we have in our warehouse!

For information about 100th Anniversary celebrations in your area, or to attend, check out the links below:

Estonian Independence Gala
EV100 Juubelipidu Torontos

EV 100 Anniversary Ball

Estonia’s Independence 100th Anniversary

Estonia’s 100th birthday celebrations

Estonia 100th Independence Day Ball

Congratulations to all Estonians across Canada, and around the globe!

Chinese New Year – AKA Spring Festival & Lunar New Year

2018: Celebrating the Year of the Dog

Chinese New Year is celebrated by 1/5 of the world’s population, and is a vacation week in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Singapore. Although Chinese New Year takes place in the middle of winter, it is also known as the Spring Festival because it marks the end of the coldest days of winter. It is a time of new beginnings and fresh starts, when Asians around the world settle their differences, make up, and reconnect with acquaintances of the past.

“Chunyun” – The Largest Human Migration in the World
In the period leading up to Chinese New Year, China and other parts of Asia see extreme numbers of people traveling, taking a break from their work or studies to be with family for New Year’s Eve dinner. This well-known period, called “Chunyun”, usually begins 15 days before New Year’s Day and lasts for weeks afterwards. During this time, Asians take billions of trips by land, air, rail, and sea, in the largest annual migration in the world.

Hangzhou East railway station located in Zhejiang, People’s Republic of China, began its operations in 1992 and was rebuilt as a high-speed rail hub in 2010. It’s now one of the largest railway stations in Asia.

The Chinese Zodiac – Which Animal Are You?
The Chinese zodiac involves a 12-year cycle, with a specific animal representing each year. According to Chinese mythology, the origin of the zodiac resulted from a great race between the animals. The specific order of the zodiac is based on how each of the animals performed in the race. 2018 is the Year of the Dog. Those born this year are described as clever, loyal, heroic, responsible, lively, and courageous. Which animal are you? Find your birth year on the list below:

Year of the Rat: The Rat is generous, imaginative and charming.
2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960

Year of the Ox: The Ox is conservative, confident, and a born leader.
2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961

Year of the Tiger: The Tiger is sensitive, emotional and capable of great love.
2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962

Year of the Rabbit: The Rabbit is kind, affectionate and pleasant.
2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963

Year of the Dragon: The Dragon is a gifted perfectionist, enthusiastic and popular.
2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964

Year of the Snake: The Snake is intuitive, deep-thinking and wise.
2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965

Year of the Horse: The Horse is friendly, independent and hardworking.
2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966

Year of the Goat: The Goat is artistic, elegant and charming.
2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967

Year of the Monkey: The Monkey is intelligent, with a magnetic personality, and well-liked.
2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968

Year of the Rooster: The Rooster is a dreamer, a decision-maker and a flashy dresser.
2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969

Year of the Dog: The Dog is courageous, loyal and heroic.
2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970

Year of the Pig: The Pig is honest, sincere and tolerant.
2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971

New Year’s Red Envelopes
Gifts are exchanged during the Spring Festival and children receive red envelopes containing lucky money. Giving red envelopes symbolizes the sharing of good fortune from the elders to the younger generation. Red envelopes are also given between friends, bosses, employees, and co-workers.

Canadians Celebrate Chinese New Year
There are many events planned across Canada and we have lots of products to make your Chinese New Year celebrations unforgettable! It’s impossible to name all the events and celebrations, so here’s a quick peek at what’s going on across the country:

In Vancouver, there are a number of events planned, including the 45th Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival Parade on February 18, and the Gold Ocean Lunar Fest Mingle 2018 on February 17th. Highlights of this event include a Chinese Couture fashion show, tea ceremony, waist drumming, and Chinese calligraphy.

Vancouver Chinese New Year Parade 2017. Image Source: Samir D / 604 Now

In Calgary, the Chinese Cultural Centre Association will hold its Chinese New Year Festival 2018 on February 17th and 18th. There will be something for everyone, including special performances of traditional lion and dragon dancing, martial arts demonstrations, and colourful Chinese lantern displays.

Calgary Chinese New Year Festival 2017. Image Source: Goldenjade Photography

In Toronto, the Chinatown BIA will host its Chinese New Year Celebration on February 17th and 18th. The event promises traditional games, food, dancing, as well as fortune telling.

Toronto Chinese New Year Celebration 2017. Image Source: Toronto Chinatown BIA

For more information or to attend these events – or others in your community – take a look at the links below:

Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver
Gold Ocean Lunar Fest Mingle 2018
Lunar New Year Festival – Vancouver / Richmond

Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre

Chinatown BIA

Edmonton Chinatown Multi-Cultural Centre

How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Montreal
Celebrate Chinese New Year in Montreal 2018

Chinatown Ottawa

Planning your own event? We’d love to help! At The Flag Shop, we’ve been helping our clients celebrate Chinese New Year for over 45 years, with a variety of offerings to help you ring in the New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year!

We carry many Chinese flag products, such as paper flags, stick flags, and tattoos.

Big Events Coming for 2018

Canadian Olympic Gold, FIFA Fever and Cadets Centenary

In 2017, Canadians joined together to celebrate one of the most important milestones in Canada’s history: Canada’s 150th birthday. Now that it’s over, some may wonder how we’re ever going to top such an amazing and important year. Everyone at The Flag Shop is pumped up about what lies ahead for 2018. Whether international, national, or regional events, there are so many things happening!

So, what is going on this year? We polled our Flag Shops across Canada and asked for their help. Together, we came up with our Top 3, highlighting events we thought would be among the most important to Canadians:

Image Source: Canadian Olympic Team Official Website

#1) Winter Olympics – Feb 9th to 25th
The 2018 Winter Olympics – officially known as the XXIII Olympic Winter Games – are coming up quickly in PyeongChang, South Korea. We all know the thrill of watching the opening ceremonies, and experience heart-pounding pride in our nation as we see our beautiful flag being waved on the world stage. Get ready to cheer on the best of the best in winter sports, including figure skating, ski jumping, bobsleigh, snowboarding, and of course, Canada’s national winter sport: ice hockey. Predictions for the games include Team Canada bringing home a whopping 33 medals. Whether you’re rooting for Canada, Kosovo, Croatia or Korea, don’t miss your chance to wave your nation’s flag. Follow us on Facebook as we share updates and medals standings. For more information about the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, visit their official website.

Winter Paralympics – March 9th to 18th
The Winter Paralympics – officially called the XII Paralympic Winter Games will begin a couple of weeks after the closing ceremonies of the Winter Games, and will include sports such as ice sledge hockey, biathlon and snowboarding. Throughout the games, there will be a total of 80 exciting medal events. For more information about the XII Paralympic Winter Games, please visit their official website.

Image Source: FIFAWorldCup2014-18.com

#2) FIFA World Cup – June 14th to July 15th
Whether you like to call it soccer or football, mark your calendars for FIFA World Cup, Russia 2018. Get swept up in the excitement of the games as 32 national teams participate in 64 matches, including two first-timers: Iceland and Panama. The games will reach a frenzied state of “FIFA Fever” leading up to the final match on July 15, at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. FIFA fan polls are purely speculative, but teams such as Spain, Argentina, Italy, Brazil and Germany are all believed to be contenders for the cup. Get your team’s flag on and join fans around the world as we all stand behind our favorite team! For match schedules and more, visit the FIFA World Cup – Russia 2018 official website.

Top: Celebrating 100 years of Sea Cadets. Bottom: Niagara Falls Sea Cadets – 1947. Image Source: Navy League of Ontario – Ontario Division.

#3) Navy League of Canada Ontario Division Centenary – April 2018
In 1917, Reverend J. Russell McLean of the Ontario Division of the Navy League of Canada helped establish a group of Toronto Sea Scouts as a Boys Naval Brigade. This was the beginning of what is known today as the Sea Cadet Movement. The Navy League Cadet program aims to help young Canadians learn life skills such as team work, and leadership. Today, there are more than 3,500 active Navy League Cadets in 102 communities across Canada. The Ontario division of the Navy League of Canada commemorated its 100th anniversary last year and final celebrations are planned to take place at its 2018 Annual General Meeting, in Markham, Ontario in April. To learn more, visit the Navy League of Canada – Ontario Division website.

Stay tuned for our upcoming blogs, as we feature more exciting and important events as the year unfolds.

2018: The Year of More is Better!

Happy New Year! 

We made it through 2017, and what a year it was for all Canadians! We came together and celebrated the greatest milestone – our 150th anniversary – in our nation’s history! We all share the privilege of living in the best country in the world. Canada is known for freedom, democracy, compassion, opportunity, innovation, and peace. Since Confederation, Canada has grown and achieved so much, and so the year-long celebrations gave us plenty of opportunity to consider and appreciate what it means to be Canadian.

Everyone from The Flag Shops across Canada was thrilled to support Canada 150 celebrations and events which took place from coast to coast to coast, throughout the entire year. It didn’t stop at Canada 150, either – we worked with co-ops, municipalities, the entertainment industry, community outreach organizations, and on relief projects, to name just a few.

We took so much joy in being able to fulfill our purpose to connect, make a positive difference, and bring meaning to the events and projects of our clients. We love serving our community, and as we look ahead to 2018, we know it will be all about “more is better!” More connecting, more laughter, more new ideas, more wine, more change, more fun, more sleep, more courage, more friendships, and more dreams realized!

Our President, Susan Braverman said, “While I have never been someone who declares personal resolutions at this time of year, I can tell you that I have lofty visions for 2018.” She added, “As we say good-bye to the old and usher in the new, I am excited and full of anticipation about what 2018 will bring for my clients, my family, and my entire Flag Shop team!”

This year, we hope to strengthen our connections with our readers. In particular, our blog will feature products and services to support nation-wide events.  Whatever the occasion, whatever the plan, we will be ready to contribute to the purpose of your projects to bring deeper meaning and impact.

Cheers to 2018 – a year to do and be more!

Home for the Holidays

The Meaning of Kwanzaa

As we wrap up our special “Home for the Holidays” series, we feature Kwanzaa, which takes place every year from December 26 to January 1. Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration honouring African traditions and cultural heritage. It was started by Maulana Karenga in 1966, following the violent Watts riots in Los Angeles, California. Karenga believed it was important for African Americans to have an occasion to commemorate their cultural heritage, and thus created Kwanzaa as an alternative to existing holidays. Kwanzaa is a Swahili word that translates to English as, “first fruits from the harvest.” Though Kwanzaa has roots in the Black Nationalist Movement, it has grown to hold meaning as a time for all people to reflect on and celebrate African American and pan-African traditions and heritage.

Image Source: fitsnews.com

The Principles of Kwanzaa
There are seven principles of Kwanzaa, which reflect the importance of community, while helping to create a better world. It’s no surprise that we at The Flag Shop can easily identify with these principles, which focus on community, social responsibility and creativity.

Meaning: unity
Action: building a community that holds together

Meaning: self-determination
Action: speaking for yourself and making choices that benefit the community

Meaning: collective work and responsibility
Action: helping others within the community

Meaning: cooperative economics
Action: supporting businesses that care about the community

Meaning: a sense of purpose
Action: setting goals that benefit the community

Meaning: creativity
Action: making the community better and more beautiful

Meaning: faith
Action: believing that a better world can be created for communities now and in the future

There are many symbols of Kwanzaa, including the unity cup, representing community; fruits or crops, representing productivity; seven candles, representing the seven principles, and the Bendera flag, made up of the colours black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future and hope resulting from the struggle. Joyous Kwanzaa!

As we wrap up our series on holiday traditions and celebrations, we wish peace and joy to you and yours over the holidays, and the best of everything in 2018!

We loved serving our community, clients, customers and friends throughout 2017, and we look forward to connecting again in the new year!

Home for the Holidays

My Memories of Hanukkah

By Susan Braverman

Hanukkah began at sundown on Tuesday, December 12 and ends today – Wednesday, December 20. During Hanukkah, each day, a candle is lit on a special menorah (candle holder) called “hanukkiyah.” The special ninth candle, traditionally the centre candle, is the “shammash” (servant candle) and is used to light the other candles. The menorah is often placed in the front window, displayed for others to see, and to remember the story of Hanukkah.

Image Source: Michele Westmorland / Getty Images

Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of lights marking the rededication of the second Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which took place during the 160s BCE. Hanukkah lasts for eight days and is the Hebrew word for “dedication.” It begins on the 25th day of Kislev, which is the month in the Jewish calendar usually occurring around the same time as December.

Growing up with a Jewish father, I can remember many special times celebrating Hanukkah. My dad came from a large family, and although I was not raised in the Jewish faith, I grew up being a part of many lavish gatherings full of friends and neighbours. Those who didn’t have family would join us – rabbis, shoemakers and doctors alike – to share the joy and peace of Hanukkah. My dad’s extended family, including first, second, and third cousins would fly in from all parts of Canada and the US, and on the first night, my aunt’s or uncle’s house would be bustling with joy, laughter, love, and warmth. Even though I didn’t know many of the people, I felt so loved by these strangers. We were family.

Me and my dad, Jack Braverman. This picture was taken in 2016 at my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party.

The Story of Hanukkah
During the time of the second temple, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucid Empire, which robbed the Jews and set up idols in the temple. No one could take a stand against them until Mattityahu and his sons drove them out. The Hanukkah lights are reminders of the great miracle, that a small group of Jews were able to overpower the mighty Seleucid army. Even greater was the miracle of the oil. The Seleucid Empire had contaminated the oil in the temple, but the Maccabees (the Jewish warriors), found one single jar that had been untouched. Though this oil was only enough to burn for one day, the warriors lit it as an expression of respect for God, and it miraculously burned for eight days.

Image Source: Wikipedia

Hanukkah Today
During the Jewish festival of lights, gifts are often given on each night. It’s a time gathering with friends and family to play games and celebrate. One popular game is “dreidel”, which is a four- sided top with a letter on each side. The four letters reflect “Nes Gadol Hayah Po.” Translated to English, this phrase means, “A great miracle happened here.” Each player places a coin in a pot and spins the top. The letter signifies how much or how little of the pot is won during each round. The importance of the oil in the Hanukkah story is remembered by preparing and sharing fried foods like “latkes” (potato pancakes) and “sufganiyot” (jam-filled doughnuts).

Image Source: Fuse / Getty Images

Happy Hanukkah! L’chaim!

Home for the Holidays

VanDusen Festival of Lights – The Magic of Christmas

By Susan Braverman

For me, nothing says Christmas more than Christmas lights! With that in mind, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to feature the VanDusen Garden Festival of Lights, which has always been a sign that Christmas is just around the corner!

Festival of Lights. Image Source: VanDusen Garden

I have so many incredible memories of the Festival of Lights through the years, having attended since it began almost 25 years ago. When it snows in Vancouver, being at the Festival makes you feel like you’re at Santa’s house! In the 90s, we helped create its banner program and made its first-ever street banners, so it’s very close to my heart. This year, we are thrilled to be a part of the excitement once again, having supplied over 50 festive street banners for the 2017 Festival of Lights. The banners are up on Oak and West 37th right outside of the Gardens, making the area even more beautiful, and signaling the beginning of the season of good cheer!

These were the very first Festival of Lights street banners we made for VanDusen Garden in the 90s.

This year’s Festival of Lights street banners that just went up about a month ago.

The Festival ends on January 7, so the clock is ticking. Get your tickets and get out there before it’s too late and be drawn into a magical world of wonder and light, and to be counted among the 110,000+ visitors the Festival has welcomed in recent years. It is a community mainstay offering an enchanted winter wonderland stretching across 15 acres, and sparkling with more than a million lights. A memorable experience for kids of every age, the program includes Candy Cane Lane, the interactive icebergs of Livingstone Lake, community choirs, and the Candy Cane Express model train. Here are some highlights of the Festival:

  • Carousel
    What else can bring on more holiday cheer than a ride on a carousel in a beautifully-lit setting? From grandkids to grandparents, it’s family fun for everyone because all tickets include a free ride on the carousel.
  • Santa’s Place
    Families, kids and couples alike can listen to holiday stories and take a selfie with Santa in the glasshouse until December 24. This is free, included with your entry ticket to the festival!
  • Festival Stage
    Sing along to your favourite festive classics! Enjoy warm beverages while listening to singers, choirs, bands and entertainers inside the Visitor Centre halls. This area is now fully licensed.
  • Fireside Lounge
    Gather around the fire pits and warm up with a holiday beverage in this new outdoor licensed area.
  • Make-A-Wish® Candle Grotto
    Make a donation to the Festival’s charity partner, the Make-A-Wish® Foundation, and make a wish while you light a candle to fill this scenic grotto.
  • Make-A-Wish® – Lego Room of Joy
    In the Visitor Centre, learn about the Make-A-Wish® BC & Yukon, get a glow star with a minimum $5 donation and enjoy the Lego display!
  • Recycled Rhythms
    Let your kids have some fun making music with recycled instruments.
  • Tinsel Tunes
    Play the piano and sing along to holiday tunes in the garden.
  • Selfie Spots and Photo Ops
    Look out for frames, sets, and other selfie spots throughout the show and make sure to share with #VanDusenFOL

Earlier this month, the Vancouver Sun published its Guide to the BEST Christmas Light Displays in Metro Vancouver and it’s no surprise that the VanDusen Garden Festival of Lights is included! Check out the list, and if you think your lights have what it takes to be added, just follow the link to share! If your display makes it onto the list, please be sure to let us know!

For more information about the 2017 Festival of Lights, please visit City of Vancouver’s website.

Stay tuned for more holiday traditions and observances as The Flag Shop’s series “Home for the Holidays” continues, next week with Hanukkah. L’chaim!

Home for the Holidays

Why Can’t We Say “Merry Christmas” Anymore?

By Susan Braverman

Recognizing there are many holiday traditions which take place in December, we’re introducing a special “Home for the Holidays” blog series. This week’s post begins the series, which will continue to the end of the year.

’Tis the Season! What exactly does this mean? For most Canadians, including myself, it means that Christmas – the busiest time of year for many retail businesses – is coming! We all know that as soon as American Thanksgiving is over, our senses are flooded with Christmas advertising and countdowns, telling us what to buy and where to find it. Many around the world observe and recognize this day as a time of giving gifts to one another and family gatherings, as well as a time of reflecting joy, hope, peace, and kindness.

According to Statistics Canada findings, Canadians celebrate holy days in December, with:

  • 67.3% of Canadians reporting affiliation with a Christian religion (Christmas);
  • 1.1% of Canadians reporting affiliation with a Buddhist religion (Bodhi Day), and
  • 1.0% of Canadians reporting affiliation with a Jewish religion (Hanukkah).

As someone who never shies away from speaking my heart and mind, here’s my point of view: We, as Canadians, are privileged beyond words to live in the best country in the world. Personally speaking, I am very proud to say that Canada is my home because we are well-known for embracing diversity, multiculturalism, as well as freedom of expression, and we have a global reputation for valuing compassion, democracy, opportunity, and peace.

Multicultural Day at Sacred Heart School of Halifax in Nova Scotia

As a multicultural nation, Canada is built on values such as respect, and we enjoy the freedom to practice our own traditions and faith, including Christmas. So, my question is: Why can’t we say “Merry Christmas” anymore? December 25 is Christmas Day, so let’s not pretend it isn’t. Canadians observe Christmas Day as a statutory holiday, and on that day, schools and businesses are closed – except for some gas stations, Chinese restaurants, and corner stores.

Spotted and shared this message on my Facebook page

I grew up with a Jewish father and a Christian mother, so even at a young age I understood the meaning of freedom of religion and the importance of respecting diverse traditions. For as long as I can remember, we always had a Christmas tree, which we called the Hanukkah bush! The lights on our house were white, making them the same colour as candles on the Menorah. Every year, at the store and office, we set up Christmas trees and decorations and we greet our customers with “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.”

Our Christmas tree at The Flag Shop Vancouver store.

To honour and recognize holiday traditions in December, we hope you’ll enjoy the “Home for the Holidays” series. Let’s all collectively celebrate the joy and wonder of the season.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks as we feature celebrations including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and others…

Happy Holidays!

November 11 – Why We Remember

Honouring Our Heroes Who Fought in the Name of Peace and Freedom

On Remembrance Day we honour the memory of Canadians who died in armed conflicts, most especially in World War I, and onward. In Canada, though November 11 is officially called Remembrance Day, it is also known as Poppy Day or Armistice Day.

Here are some interesting facts about Remembrance Day you may not already know:

  1. The Governor General of Canada presides over the Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. It is attended by the Prime Minister, government officials, veterans’ organizations, veterans and the public.
  2. Members of the Canadian military are honoured each year not only fighting in the two World Wars, the Korean War, the South African War, the Arab-Israeli Conflict of 1974, and in Afghanistan, but also in several dozen UN peacekeeping missions.
  3. According to the Royal Canadian Legion, the poppy should be worn on the left lapel, which is closer to the heart. Poppies are to be worn from October 31 to November 11, and rather than being discarded on November 12, they should be placed at a cenotaph (a monument or tomb built in honour of people who died at war and are buried elsewhere).

On this day, we pay tribute to members of our armed forces and their families, who serve or have served during times of peace, conflict, and war. During the month of November we wear red poppies as symbols of remembrance because of the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” written by a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. This poem was written from viewpoint of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom and peace, and describes the hope of the deceased for the living to carry on.

Image source: The Canadian Press/Fred Chartrand

Inspired by this poem, Moina Michael, a University of Georgia professor, wrote another poem, “We Shall Keep the Faith”, vowing to wear a red poppy every November 11. She popularized this custom, which spread across Europe, countries of the British Empire and the Commonwealth. In those earliest times when poppies grew in some of the battlefields of Flanders in World War I, real poppies were worn. This is how poppies and their vibrant red colour first became natural symbols bloodshed in the war.

Members of the Canadian military stand in honour of fallen Canadian soldiers. Image source: BlackburnNews.com/Mike Vlasveld

On November 11 Canadians remember members of the Canadian armed forces, past and present, at home and abroad. We salute them for the sacrifices they make to protect peace and freedom for all Canadians. One of the ways we honour those who sacrificed their lives is to observe two minutes of silence at 11:00 a.m. This is a deliberate act rooted in humanity, to reflect on what we owe all those who have helped to shape our nation – those who experienced the harshest realities of war.

If you would like to know about Remembrance Day events in your community, please visit the Veterans Affairs Canada website, to access an interactive map of events across Canada.

The Flag Shop carries a full range of Canadian-made Remembrance Day products as well as ensigns and military flags to pay tribute to our serving and fallen heroes.