These are the differences between American and Canadian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost here!
Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving also
How is Canadian Thanksgiving different?
Canadian Thanksgiving is in October...
The date has changed over the years...
Why do Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October?
We all know about the origins of American Thanksgiving...but how did Canadian Thanksgiving begin?
Explorers had a hard life in Canada
Martin Frobisher held the first Canadian Thanksgiving in 1578
A celebration to thank God
Canada declared Thanksgiving a holiday BEFORE the USA
Can you imagine celebrating Thanksgiving in April?!
A good excuse to indulge and enjoy family
Canadian Thanksgiving is more relaxed
It's an optional holiday in 4 provinces
Thanksgiving hikes
There's no shopping madness associated with Thanksgiving
But we may still indulge in American shopping deals...
Canadians and American eat similar things on Thanksgiving...
....but their are some exceptions
Things you won't find on a Canadian table at Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is almost here!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and will be celebrated on Thursday, the 25th of November this year.  However, did you know that Americans aren't only country that celebrates Thanksgiving?

-There is no Presidential pardoning of the turkey in Canada by the way!

Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving also

Unless you are a Canadian like myself, you may be surprised that Canadians also celebrate Thanksgiving. When people in other countries think about Thanksgiving, they nearly always think of the United States, most likely because that is what they see on TV and in the movies.

How is Canadian Thanksgiving different?

But we Canadians also celebrate Thanksgiving!  And they are a few key differences in how we celebrate our Canadian Thanksgiving. Click on to find out what they are!

Canadian Thanksgiving is in October...

At first glance, Canadian and American Thanksgiving may look very similar, but some important differences set a good Canadian Thanksgiving celebration apart from the American version. First up, the date! Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated in October and on a Monday!

The date has changed over the years...

Over the years, since the tradition of Thanksgiving was started, it has been moved around a lot, but in 1957, the Canadian government made the second Monday in October the official day for Thanksgiving.

Image: Wikicommons-By Moxy

Why do Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October?

There are two main reasons Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving earlier than Americans: 1) Our harvest, due to the colder climate, is ready earlier, and 2) If we have Thanksgiving in November, it could potentially overlap with another important Canadian holiday Remembrance Day on November 11th.

Photo: By Joseph Gonzalez

We all know about the origins of American Thanksgiving...but how did Canadian Thanksgiving begin?

Canadian and American Thanksgiving have different but similar origins. And while many of us know the American Thanksgiving story from 1621, few know how Canadian Thanksgiving came to be an important Canadian tradition. Some experts believe that Canadian Thanksgiving may go farther back than the famous Pilgrims' feast.

(Image: By Jean Leon Gerome Ferris - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress)

Explorers had a hard life in Canada

Canadian Thanksgiving was, in the beginning, a gathering and a meal to thank God for keeping those first explorers safe in the New World.

Martin Frobisher held the first Canadian Thanksgiving in 1578

According to National Geographic, the earliest report of these kinds of "thanks-giving" meals is from 1578.  An English explorer named Martin Frobisher and his crew were the first to indulge and give thanks by sharing a meal together.

(Image: By Cornelis Ketel - Digital BodleianThis file comes from the Bodleian Libraries, a group of research libraries in Oxford University)

A celebration to thank God

Martin Frobisher and his crew enjoyed  a special dinner of biscuits, salt beef, and mushy peas  to thank God for allowing them to travel safely through the North-West Passage in Northern North America (in what is known today as the Territory of Nunavut) in Canada.

Canada declared Thanksgiving a holiday BEFORE the USA

However, Canadian Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday until 1859, a whole four years earlier than in the United States (it was declared a national holiday in the US in 1863).

Pictured: Thanksgiving at Toronto's St. Lawrence in 1967.

Can you imagine celebrating Thanksgiving in April?!

And while Canada may have declared it a national holiday first, it would take nearly a 100 years for the Canadian government to settle on a date. From 1859 until 1957, the holiday was celebrated on a variety of dates varying from April to November.

Photo by Marius Ciocirlan

A good excuse to indulge and enjoy family

These days, however, Canadian Thanksgiving is primarily seen as a non-religious holiday. It simply marks the start of the fall season and is a reminder to be thankful for good friends, family, and seasonal food.

Canadian Thanksgiving is more relaxed

So, this leads us to the next key difference between Canadian and American Thanksgiving - Canadian Thanksgiving is MUCH more relaxed. In the United States, they have parades, football, and really over-the-top feasts. 

It's an optional holiday in 4 provinces

In Canada, Thanksgiving is a statutory holiday in most provinces; however, it is an optional holiday in Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. In addition, according to Bustle, in Quebec, most people don't even bother celebrating the holiday! But for those of us that do celebrate Thanksgiving, we mainly just stick to enjoying a meal with family and/or friends.

Thanksgiving hikes

Usually, the weather is still lovely in October, so a Thanksgiving Day hike to enjoy the beautiful fall leaves is a popular tradition. In addition, since the actual holiday is on a Monday, most people enjoy their big meal on Saturday or Sunday, and many save Monday as a travel day if they had to travel to see family, or simply as a "recovery" day to tidy up and relax the day after the feast.

Photo by Aaron Burden

There's no shopping madness associated with Thanksgiving

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are not part of Canadian Thanksgiving either. There really isn't any post-Thanksgiving shopping craze. Following Thanksgiving, the only intense shopping we do is stocking up on Halloween candy when there are sales in October.

 

But we may still indulge in American shopping deals...

However, like many other countries, Canadian stores have begun to participate in the American traditions of November's Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, particularly with online shopping....but that all happens in November, long after Canadian Thanksgiving.

Photo by Ashkan Forouzani

Canadians and American eat similar things on Thanksgiving...

Another difference between a Canadian and an American Thanksgiving is the food. At first glance, it might look the same in many homes: turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, root vegetables, and pumpkin pies.

Photo by Pro Church Media

....but their are some exceptions

However, you may eat something different depending on where you grew up, the food, and how "hardcore" Canadian you are. Some households enjoy traditional Canadian Thanksgiving foods such as tourtiere, a traditional French-Canadian meat pie (pictured) and/or a roast ham.

Things you won't find on a Canadian table at Thanksgiving

There are also two dishes you will NOT find on a Canadian Thanksgiving table but are popular in the United States: cornbread and sweet potato and marshmallow casserole.

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