Canadian Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

Canadian Thanksgiving, that is – because ours is like a month and a half earlier than in the States. There’s a few ways that the holiday is different up here in America’s hat, so I thought today would be the perfect opportunity to share them!

1. Sunday, Monday, Happy Days!

While American Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday, we wacky Canucks always celebrate on a Monday. But hey, what better gift could our government give than one less Monday to have to go to work for?

2016 Granby Zoo Orange Tree Black Sky small.jpg
Winter is coming…

2. Winter Is Coming

As mentioned before, not only is our day of the week different, but the date is completely off too. The official day is always the second Monday of October. Why? Because baby it’s cold up here. Our growing season ends earlier, therefore our bountiful cornucopia is harvested in October rather than November. That said, since made official in 1879, the day used to move around quite a bit – presumably depending on the growing season. Since people don’t depend on harvests so much now though and food is available all year round, the fixed October date has been around since 1957.

3. Better Than None

True, not everyone gets the four day Thursday-Sunday off in the US, but here we only get one day off for a total three-day weekend. No exceptions.

4. Meh

Probably most significantly, Thanksgiving is not really a big deal here. Sure families get together and do the big turkey dinner (some families much more extravagantly than others), but the frothing-at-the-mouth frenzy of the USA is definitely absent. In the maritime provinces (PEI, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador), Thanksgiving is just an optional holiday altogether. I think the most I ever celebrated its lead up was in elementary school when we made hand turkeys.

2016 Granby Zoo Pumpkins small.jpg
Pumpkins along with turkey and squash were traditions brought from America.

5. Origin of Thanks

Unlike the story one usually hears about starving pilgrims and generous First Nations peoples, Canadian Thanksgiving actually has traditions based in its European roots. Both French and English colonists held sporadic feasts of thanks when fortuitous events occurred: surviving a perilous Arctic expedition and the end of battles and wars (such as the Seven Years War). Sometimes they did feast with First Nations peoples, but instead of saving settlers from starvation, food was shared on both sides. It was only when loyalists fled to Canada during the American Revolution that Canadians adopted certain American traditions like turkey, pumpkin, and squash (and for this will be forever grateful).

2016-thanksgiving-apple-butter-pumpkin-pie
Apple butter pumpkin pie with pecan streusal topping: my contribution to this year’s family gathering.

In all, Thanksgiving is much like any other holiday at its core: a family-centric gathering in which much good food and drink is consumed.

I hope for those of you who celebrate that you had a marvellous time, and that even if you don’t you can maybe find a slice of pumpkin pie to enjoy anyway!


11 thoughts on “Canadian Thanksgiving

  1. Its very interesting to note that there is no religious holidays in North America (Christmas notwithstanding). Thanksgiving in the form that is in the US and Canada is an unknown in the east (read asia). But the practice is the same – its family coming together for a meal and keeping the flames of kinship alive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true! Kinship is universal 🙂 although we do have heaps of religious holidays too – Easter is another big Christian one, and then there’s all the Jewish holidays, the Muslim ones…seems like there’s always a reason to gather 😀 I’m not religious so I’m not well versed in all the traditions of each but it’d be awesome to talk about them on the blog!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahh I see! Depending where you work, different holidays are off. I worked one place that was open every day of the year except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, but many other places (banks, grocery stores, offices, etc) are closed for official National holidays. If the company is of a religious community though (my mother worked at a Jewish allied community centre), then their own holidays were followed. But yes, for the most part comparatively few national holidays are of a religious nature 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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