Everyone loves to celebrate a birthday, so on August 5, have a Happy Natal Day — in honor of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. A holiday that began in 1895, Natal Day was organized as a way to celebrate Nova Scotia’s history. Natal, in case you’re wondering, is from the Latin word for “birth.” Festivities for this holiday typically last the whole weekend before Natal Day (which falls on a Monday), so get ready to celebrate, attend a lot of outdoor parties and eat a ton of cake. Hello? It’s a birthday after all.
History of Natal Day
Natal Day is a popular civic holiday celebrated in the Halifax-Dartmouth region every year on the first Monday of August. The festivities are marked with parades, fireworks, races, cake-cutting ceremonies, concerts, and more.
Natal Day was first celebrated on June 21, commemorating the founding of Halifax in 1749. The town historian Dr. John P. Martin wrote about how Natal Day celebrations shifted to August in his book “The Story Of Dartmouth.” The first annual Natal Day started in the summer of 1895. For many years, Dartmouth observed Natal Day of Halifax on June 21 — most shops were open only until noon, and schools were closed for the day. Dominion Day would mostly pass unrecognized, while June 21 was celebrated jubilantly.
The townsfolk decided to have their own Natal Day, with the holiday date coinciding with the inauguration of the first train arriving on the new railway line in the area. As the new railway branch was scheduled to be completed by August of 1895, preparations to host a summer carnival began earlier in the same year. Special fares were requested to be issued so out-of-town visitors could visit Dartmouth and observe the area’s residential and industrial potential, as well as witness the beautiful scenery surrounding Dartmouth Lakes.
By June, it was evident that the railway branch would not be finished that year. The locals and the Dartmouth Committee went ahead with their celebration plans for Natal Day at First Lake in August. In 1906, a half-holiday was declared by Halifax on the same day as Dartmouth’s Natal Day.
Natal Day timeline
The province is given the name Nova Scotia, which means “New Scotland” in Latin.
The King Williams War, which lasted from 1688-1697, is the first of six wars to take place in Nova Scotia.
The Seven Years’ War, also known as the French and Indian War, is the last war to take place in Nova Scotia — thankfully.
Thanks to Joseph Howe, a Canadian writer and politician, Nova Scotia is able to maintain a responsible government, making it a self-governing province.
The Canadian Confederation includes Nova Scotia as a founding province — it is one of four, along with Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, if you're keeping score.
Natal Day FAQs
What is the difference between Natal Day and birthday?
‘Natal day’ is a synonym for ‘birthday’ in the date of birth. ‘Natal day’ is used interchangeably with ‘Birthday.’
Why is Natal Day celebrated?
On Natal Day, the birth of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia is celebrated.
Who gets Natal Day off?
Natal Day is only a holiday for trade union employees and those who work in government offices.
Natal Day Activities
Take it outside
With so many events going on that weekend, there's plenty of fun to be had outdoors. Check out the Halifax-Dartmouth Natal Day Festival — featuring a parade, family activities, live performances, fireworks, and more.
Born to run
Doing a run on Natal Day is a pretty popular option — it’s in the summer, so the weather is warm. Check out the Dartmouth Natal Day Road Race — a perfect choice for runners and walkers — so the whole fam can join in on the fun.
Eat lots of food — especially cake
Between all the festivals, barbecues and parades on Natal day (and the days before and after it) you can count on consuming a lot of delicious foods — so bring your appetite. Plus, because Natal Day is a birthday celebration, you can always count on there being lots (and lots) of cake.
5 Bizarre Facts About Halifax, Nova Scotia
One of the largest man-made explosions happened here
Prior to Hiroshima, the Halifax Explosion of 1917 was the world’s largest man-made explosion.
It's home to Canada's most-visited National Historic Site
The Halifax Citadel National Historic Site is the most-visited National Historic Site in Canada.
It’s a Geographic Anomaly
Halifax is actually closer to Dublin, Ireland that it is to Victoria, British Columbia.
It has a Large, Ice-Free, Natural Harbor
Although the largest harbor of this kind is in Sydney, Australia, the one located in Halifax is next on the list.
The Halifax Old Town Clock has been ticking continuously for 200+ years
Like most places, Halifax has a famous landmark — the Old Town Clock — ticking since 1803.
Why We Love Natal Day
No train — no problem
Originally, Natal Day was meant to celebrate the arrival of the railway line in Halifax, but due to delays in construction, the reason had to change. Because of this, Natal Day turned into celebrating the history of Halifax, as well as the areas around it.
Go ahead, take the day off
Despite the fact that it’s a statutory holiday, a lot of lucky Nova Scotians get paid time off for the day. And who doesn’t love that?
It’s an excuse to be festive
With plenty of outdoor events hosted all over Halifax and Dartmouth all weekend long, Natal Day is the perfect time to take advantage of having some fun in the summer sun.
Natal Day dates