Is there a big difference between Canadian Thanksgiving and American Thanksgiving? I mean, not really, but there are probably “purists” that have a strong opinion on the matter, arguing with their opponent from the other camp about which one came first or is the “truer” holiday.
Yeah, I don’t know about that. All I want to do is write about a day wherein I eat too much (which is almost everyday, but this one is special). For any American reading this, maybe you can spot some differences; maybe you are going to wonder why there are differences at all.
Anyway, this is going to be a largely comparative article, enjoy! …or don’t!
The history of the holiday in Canada is tied to Arctic exploration and basically how a group of English explorers were pretty stoked that they didn’t freeze to death in the Arctic Ocean. …or maybe it was tied to some French explorers? …wait, it was citizens of Halifax! …perhaps it was a tradition brought from America to Canada after the American Revolution..?
Likely, the tradition is a combination of all of these inspirations. All of that considered, there is a lot of influence from the USA due to their overwhelming globo-cultural hegemony (and the fact that the celebrations are pretty similar). So anyway, the reason for the holiday is giving thanks but you know, for different stuff at different times.
The date is the only significant difference between Thanksgiving in Canada and in America. In Canada, the holiday takes place on the second Monday in October, which if you are an American should be a familiar date, since it is Columbus Day (although based on recent protests, I bet this Columbus Day might be more memorable for the rest of the world). The date in Canada was only fixed in place in 1957, it occurred at various other points of time before that, and was largely put in October to avoid overlap with Remembrance Day that occurs on 11 November (or Veteran’s Day, if you are in the USA).
Now, in the USA Thanksgiving is on a Thursday, which usually segues into a four-day weekend with the Friday in between American Thanksgiving and the weekend being Black Friday. Well, in Canada Black Friday has only recently cropped up, but it is made up for on Boxing Day, sort of.
Oh yeah, it might be worth mentioning that in Canada, it is only an optional holiday for some provinces. Oops. Four-day weekend in the USA, uh, “nice day” in (some parts of) Canada…
Here is where the differences in between Canada and America melt away. The focus of the holiday is on a feast which is, in both countries, centred around main dish of roast turkey. To make it a proper feast, there are usually lots of side dishes, usually of the autumnal variety: squash, potato, roast vegetables, gravy, and cranberry sauce. A selection of casseroles tend to be more popular in the USA, green-bean casserole, sweet potato with marshamllow. Desserts tend towards being the same, apple pie, pumpkin pie – a notable Canadian difference being the inclusion of Nanaimo bars.
There is a big tradition in both countries to have sporting events broadcast during the holiday; however, it is a much bigger deal in the USA and several major league sports have special games (in non-pandemic years); while in Canada the sole special event is the Thanksgiving Day Classic of Canadian Football.
Is That It?
Yeah, pretty much. There are some parades and some school activities, but for the most part Thanksgiving, in Canada, is just another long weekend.
All information sources linked in text.
Turkey, Trudeau Head, Flags, Turkey Clipart, Cornucopia Clipart, Dinner Table, Selfie Trudeau, Roast Lady (I honestly tried to find the source but there are too many copies on the internet, sorry!), CFL, Jogging Trudeau