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Canada Day Facts For Americans (PHOTOS)

A Canada Day Guide For Americans

Happy Canada Day! If you're a Canadian here or abroad you're hopefully celebrating our country's birth with fireworks, barbecues, picnics or just some quality time with friends and family.

Our American friends might be a little confused about our national holiday and why all their secret (and not-so secret) Canadian friends online are talking about it today. We've written up a quick crash course on Canada Day that you can pass along to a non-Canadian, a new Canadian or someone who just wants to wave a red and white flag and celebrate the birthday of the best county in the world.

1. So what are we celebrating exactly?

The birth of Canada, or as we call it Confederation. In 1867, leaders from the colonies of Upper Canada (now Ontario), Lower Canada (Quebec), Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, decided to form one country, Canada.

The document that they signed, the British North America Act, would essentially be Canada's constitution until 1982.

2. So you didn't go to war or anything?

Nope. We asked Queen Victoria politely. She said yes.

3. What the heck is Dominion Day?

That's what we used to call Canada Day. The country was known officially as the Dominion of Canada so many older Canadians refer to July 1st as Dominion Day.

4. OK, where's the best place to celebrate Canada Day?

Ottawa! Hundreds of thousands go to the nation's capital to celebrate Canada Day. There's a big concert, fireworks and general merry-making.

But virtually every major Canadian town and city holds some kind of Canada Day festivities. And yes, there are fireworks.

5. OK, but what if I live abroad?

Canadian embassies and consulates often hold celebrations for Canada Day. London and New York are holding fun looking concerts. Otherwise you may want to try to look for an ex-pat group of Canadians in your area.

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6. What do I wear?

Something with a Canadian flag on it would be nice. Red and white are pretty easy colours to find and the maple leaf is a much subtler symbol than the stars and stripes (sorry American pals). Our friends at Stylelist have a little guide. If it's cool we recommend the unofficial Canadian uniform, the denim tuxedo.

7. What do I eat?

Well, it's summer in Canada. May we recommend you grill something. But hey, Canada is a pretty multicultural place now so if you get invited to a Canada Day party you can pretty much bring anything you want. Here's some Canadian foods we love.

8. What do I drink?

Canadians love beer. Labatt's and Molson's, the country's two biggest breweries, are among the most recognized brands in Canada. If you're ready to graduate to a craft beer we've got a list for you.

9. Do I have to know the words to the anthem?

Well, aren't you a keener. Sure. 'O Canada' is a pretty easy anthem to learn and it can be sung in BOTH of our official languages.

10. What about party music?

Sure. Here's a list of some our favourite Canadian songs. Other Canadian artists you're going to hear a lot of on Canada Day include: Neil Young, the Tragically Hip, Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Joni Mitchell and, ironically, Bryan Adams. Play Nickelback, Celine Dion or Justin Bieber at your own peril.

11. What do I talk about?

Well, Canadians do love hockey (the playoffs just ended, the Chicago Blackhawks won btw) and the Blue Jays (the country's remaining baseball team is doing pretty well). But if sports isn't up your alley, why don't you ask us questions about Canada. If you really want to talk about politics study up first. Also, talking about our awesome astronaut Chris Hadfield or the weather is a pretty safe bet.

If you're having trouble understanding some of our slang, we have a quick guide.

12. It's a holiday, yes?

Yes! It's a statutory holidays so many shops, restaurants, banks and government offices will be closed. Canada Day falls on a Monday so many people will make a long weekend of it.

[Ed. note: This year Canada Day falls on a Wednesday. Some lucky people will try to turn this into an epic five-day long weekend. Good luck with that.]

13. Anything else?

Nope. Thanks, eh. Happy Canada Day!

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