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?


canada day

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?


canada day queen

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

3. What the heck is Dominion Day?


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?


canada day parliament

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 flag new york

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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  • The Rock

    Yes, Dwayne Johnson's father is Nova Scotia-born wrestler Rocky Johnson. As the <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/thehero/14-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-rock" target="_blank">first generation child of a Canadian, Johnson is eligible for Canadian citizenship</a>. Johnson also played in the CFL for the Calgary Stampeders during the 1995 season, but was cut after two months.

  • James Doohan

    Scottie was totally from Vancouver.

  • Emmanuelle Chriqui

    The "Entourage" star was born in Montreal.

  • Frank Gehry

    The world-famous architect was born in Toronto.

  • Rick Fox

    The former NBA star was born in Toronto.

  • Norm Macdonald

    The comedian is from Quebec City. Bonus points if you knew his brother is CBC journalist Neil Macdonald.

  • Nathan Fillion

    The "Castle" and "Firefly" star was born in Edmonton.

  • Ted Cruz

    The potential Republican presidential nominee was born in Calgary. However, because his mother is American, U.S. officials have ruled that he <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/05/19/cruz-eligible-presidential-run/" target="_blank">would be eligible to run for the presidency</a>.

  • Men Without Hats

    That's right, "Safety Dance" came from a Montreal group.

  • Matt Groening

    While born in Portland, Groening's father Homer was born in Main Centre, Saskatchewan and so Groening is eligible for citizenship.

  • Lorne Greene

    The "Bonanza" star was born in Ottawa.

  • Brendan Fraser

    While born in Indianapolis, both of "The Mummy" star's parents are Canadian and so he is entitled to Canadian citizenship.

  • Anna Paquin

    The Oscar winning star of "True Blood" was born in in Winnipeg.

  • David Rakoff

    The regular contributor to "This American Life" was born in Montreal.

  • Kim Cattrall

    While the "Sex and the City" star was actually born in in the U.K., she moved to Coutenay, B.C., when she was just an infant.

  • Mia Kirshner

    "The L Word" star was born in Toronto.

  • Carrie Anne Moss

    The star of "The Matrix" was born in Burnaby, B.C.

  • Eric McCormack

    The "Will and Grace" star was born in Toronto.

  • James Cameron

    OK, you may have known this one already, but for some reason people are always forgetting that the "Titanic" and "Avatar" director was born in Kapuskasing, Ontario.

  • Monty Hall

    The original host of "Let's Make A Deal" was born in Winnipeg.

  • Honorary Mention - Tom Cruise

    OK, so he was born in Syracuse, New York and his parents were both American, but the star of, well everything, went to school in Ottawa for several years in the early 1970s. It was in Ottawa that <a href="http://i.usatoday.net/life/books/tom_cruise_excerpt.pdf" target="_blank">Cruise first became involved in acting</a>, according to Andrew Morton's unauthorized biography.

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  • Next: 13 Things To Never Say To A Canadian

  • Things You Don't Want To Say To A Canadian

    Canadians are normally pretty nice but there are things you just don't want to say to a Canadian... (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

  • This looks like Monopoly money!

  • Hey you're from Canada? Do you know my friend Doug?

  • You lost the War of 1812, right?

  • Polar bears rooting through your garbage at night must be pretty irritating.

    (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

  • Do you guys all ski to work and stuff?

  • Do you have cable / internet / random technology in Canada?

  • You all speak French right?

  • What part of America are you from?

  • Is Vancouver / Edmonton / Calgary close to Toronto?

  • Do you have a president?

    (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Fred Chartrand)

  • Is Toronto your capital city?

  • Say "aboot" for me

  • More from our readers!

    We asked our readers to tell us more things that you shouldn't say to a Canadian. We collected the best responses.

  • Rose Simpson

    @HuffPostCanada #AngryCanadian Wasn't it wonderful that Ben Affleck thanked Canadians at the Oscars? Were Canadians in Iran?

  • Andrea C

    @HuffPostCanada #AngryCanadian To someone from Toronto: "I have a friend named .... In Vancouver, do you know them?" "No, it's a 3hr flight"

  • Krysta Ibach

    @HuffPostCanada The old chestnut You guys all live in igloos right? #AngryCanadian

  • Alysha Macdonald

    @HuffPostCanada #AngryCanadian "Is it warm there in summer? Do you drink maple syrup? You say roof (ruff), tour (tore), and bar (ba) weird."

6. What do I wear?


canadian tuxedo

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?



canada day food

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?


canada day beer

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?


canadian 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?


canada arcade fire

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?


maple leafs

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?


canada day closed

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.

13. Anything else?


canada day

Nope. Thanks, eh. Happy Canada Day!