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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 travelled 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?

It’s a Chinese home because…

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, the 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 expressions such as “等一下” (děng yīxià) which means “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, the 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!

But it’s also a French home because…

Like most French, I usually eat bread at dinnertime. So there is good bread (usually rye)—not sliced bread with tons of preservatives, aka “pain américain” like the 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.

And it’s a Canadian home because…

We have a shovel in the garage. Comes in handy in winter to dig ourselves out after a snowstorm.

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?

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French woman in English Canada.

Exploring the world with my camera since 1999, translating sentences for a living, writing stories that may or may not get attention.

Firm believer that nobody is normal... and it’s better this way.

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