What Does a Canadian, Chinese and French Household Look Like?

Chinese, French and Canadian!

Chi­nese, French and Canadian!

Baby Mark is going to grow up in a mul­ti­cul­tural envi­ron­ment: Canada is an inclu­sive coun­try and we mix our cul­tures and tra­di­tions at home.

Feng was born in China and came to Canada when he was in his early teens. I was born and raised in Nantes, France, and came to Canada in 2004. We both trav­eled the world, alone and then together. Although we adopted Canada and are both Cana­dian cit­i­zens, our respec­tive back­grounds coex­ist peace­fully at home.

So, what are our Chi­nese, Cana­dian and French sides?

A Chi­nese home…

We hang colour­ful tra­di­tional Chi­nese lunar cal­en­dars on the wall. They are usu­ally red and gold with an embed­ded upside down “福” (the char­ac­ter for “luck”) and mark Chi­nese hol­i­days such as Chi­nese New Year or the Mid-Autumn Fes­ti­val. Inci­den­tally, Chi­nese seem to have a pas­sion for free cal­en­dars. Every year, my in-laws bring us about ten dif­fer­ent ones picked up at the bank, at the super­mar­ket, at the office… I mean, how many cal­en­dars do you need, really?

We have more pairs of chop­sticks than knives and forks. True story: when my mother and my brother came to visit us in 2011, we rushed to IKEA to buy more knives, forks and spoons because we real­ized that not every­one can use chop­sticks for everything!

We use Chi­nese for some items at home. For exam­ple, we always call the ther­mos the “暖瓶” (nuǎn­píng) and “rice” is 米饭 (mǐfàn). We also use Chi­nese expres­sion such as “等一下” (děng yīxià) which mean “wait” or “冷不冷” (lěng bù lěng) which means “is it cold?”

We tend to cover things—okay, let me explain that one. For some rea­son, Chi­nese like to cover or wrap items—or sim­ply leave the orig­i­nal packaging—to pro­tect them. For instance, the remote con­trol is pro­tected with plas­tic wrap (because you know, you grab it with dirty fin­gers when you eat in front of the TV). We have a red car­pet over the stairs’ exist­ing car­pet. It used to drive me crazy but I’m now used to it and I must admit it kind of make sense.

We have a lot of Chi­nese food in the kitchen, includ­ing plenty of dif­fer­ent kinds of “菜” (veg­gies) such as Chi­nese broc­coli, bok choy, etc., hot sauce, Chi­nese noo­dles, 八角 (anise), Chi­nese can­dies, etc. We make weekly trips to T&T Super­mar­ket, but Food Basic, Wal­mart and Loblaw also have a great “inter­na­tional” aisle.

We have Chi­nese med­i­cine such as Tiger Balm in the bath­room cabinet.

And of course, we cel­e­brate Chi­nese New Year!

A French home…

Like most French, I usu­ally eat bread at din­ner time. So there is good bread (usu­ally rye)—not sliced bread with tons of preser­v­a­tive, aka “pain améri­cain” like French call it—on top of the fridge.

I sus­pect I have more beauty prod­ucts than your aver­age Cana­dian house­hold. I’m a fan of L’Occitane, Nuxe, Nivea and a few other French brands and I love creams in gen­eral. I try to buy them in France though, because any­thing French is more expen­sive here.

Pic­tures of crêpes and bread hang on the wall in the kitchen. I took these at the mar­ket in Nantes.

I have condi­ments such as French mus­tard, French pick­les, herbes de provence, etc. in the kitchen and I use them a lot.

Even though I mostly read nov­els in Eng­lish, I have a few hard­cov­ers of my favourite French authors, includ­ing Jean-Christophe Grangé and Maxime Chattam.

We have French reme­dies such as homéopathie (not French per se, I know, but a very French thing nonethe­less), Strep­sils (for sore throat), Arnica gel, etc.

I have a cou­ple of pairs of Doc Martens, British boots that were very pop­u­lar in France in the 1990s but are some­how unknown in Canada.

A Cana­dian home…

We have a shovel in the garage. Comes it handy dur­ing the win­ter to dig our­selves out after a snow storm.

We have cof­fee mugs from Tim Hor­tons, Cana­dian Tire, Star­bucks and Sec­ond Cup—even though we don’t really drink coffee.

We even have Cana­dian Tire money somewhere.

We have an impres­sive col­lec­tion of gloves, scarves and hats, includ­ing the iconic red mit­tens with the maple leaf.

We have a few Cana­dian flags (admit­tedly folded, not dis­played) from Canada Day and from my cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­mony.

We proudly cel­e­brate Canada Day and yes, we watch hockey (when it’s not on strike…).

We mostly speak Eng­lish at home and have adopted Cana­dian cul­ture in general.

How about you? How do you blend your dif­fer­ent cul­tures, cus­toms and tra­di­tions at home?


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Super, quel mélange ! J’écris en français, je devrai moins réfléchir comme ça.
    Ici, j’ai fait adopter à mon cher et ten­dre quelques habi­tudes bien suisses, comme le fait de dîner à 18h30, de se brosser les dents le soir (et non unique­ment le matin, comme le font les Mauriciens), et de manger à table (et pas devant la télé, sur le canapé).
    On parle un mélange de créolé et de français, on cui­sine aussi bien des spaghet­tis car­bonara que du poulet mas­sala…
    Bref, un joli mélange ici aussi.

    • Je né savais pas que les Suisses dînaient si tôt! Comme les Cana­di­ens…! Mar­rant le fait de se brosser les dents le matin plutôt que le soir (ou mieux, les deux quand même). Est-ce que ça a été ur pour toi d’apprendre le créolé?

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  4. Hi, I liked your post. Yes, I am Mal­tese and my hus­band is Brazil­ian. We live in Rio de Janeiro. We do mix and match our cul­tures. I often end up cook­ing mediter­ranean dishes with Brazil­ian meat cuts and fin­ish off with some trop­i­cal fruit for dessert. Vari­ety is not only the spice of life but the spice in our food too, i guess! :-)

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