From the Insider
By Allison Millington
The origins of Canadian and American Thanksgiving are quite unique — but that's not the only way the holidays are different.
Sure, they have their similarities — colder, fall weather and eating turkey — but as a Canadian, I'm constantly amazed by how much more relaxed and low-key our celebrations are.
Even though I live in the UK, I still celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving every year.
Scroll down to see 11 ways Canadians do Thanksgiving differently than Americans.
1) We celebrate almost two months earlier.
Canadian Thanksgiving takes place on the second Monday in October, instead of the fourth Thursday in November.
There are a number of theories on why this is — one is that the harvest, which is believed to be part of the history behind Thanksgiving, simply starts earlier in Canada than it does in the US.
2) We don't get as many days off work.
Canadians automatically get the Monday of Thanksgiving off work in most parts of the country — except in the Atlantic provinces (Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador) where it remains an optional holiday. Americans get both Friday and Monday off.
According to Bustle, In Quebec, Thanksgiving, also called "Action de Grâce," is even less important, and many people don't celebrate it at all.
I now live in the UK, so sadly I don't get any days off at all.
3) Canadian Thanksgiving may have started before the American version.
It's easy to assume that Canada, being the younger of the two countries, copied the tradition from the US.
However, Canadian Thanksgiving may have actually come first.
Business Insider previously reported that the earliest recorded Canadian Thanksgiving celebration dates back to 1578, after explorer Martin Frobisher's third voyage to Canada.
After losing one of his ships along the way, he apparently had a big celebration to give thanks for this safe passage when he landed in Nunavut.
This was years ahead of the first recorded US feast between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans at Plymouth in 1621, according to Time — an event that is now more somber for many Native Americans due to the war that followed a generation later.
4) They exist for different reasons.
Throughout history, Canadian Thanksgiving seems to have always been centered around the harvest season, which starts earlier in Canada than it does in the US. One theory is that Thanksgiving came from French Settlers who came to Canada in the early 17th century and wanted to celebrate their harvests in what was then New France.
After being officially formalised as a national holiday in 1879, the day also started out as a religious holiday.
According to TIME, in 1859, Canada's Protestant ministers began to petition the colonial government for an official day to thank God, "pointing to the bountiful harvests as proof that God exists." Canadians were also apparently thankful they were "spared the bloodshed" of the US Civil War.
At the time, Canada was about to become a separate country from Great Britain, so having a "Protestant national celebration" was also an effort to help Canada create a national identity.
The Protestant aspect of the national holiday started to lose its dominance because people were looking for "more of a party" — especially after the idea of a national Thanksgiving spread into the US and Canadians "got the idea for hosting a harvest feast after reading how Americans celebrated the holiday in readily-accessible U.S. newspapers and magazines."
The history of American Thanksgiving is much more dark — and involves a bloody struggle that decimated the population and ended with a head on a stick.
5) It doesn't revolve around sport...
Although the Canadian Football League does hold a nationally-televised doubleheader on the Monday afternoon called the Thanksgiving Day Classic, growing up in Canada, my family never turned it on — and none of my friends' families did either.
Unlike the US where everyone seems to watch the game, only the true football fans tune into sports during Thanksgiving in Canada — the others are too busy eating.
6) ...Or shopping.
Canada doesn't do "Black Friday" at Thanksgiving time. In fact, there are no big shopping sales surrounding the weekend at all. We do, however, have some Black Friday sales in November, at the same time at the US.
7) We don't have a parade.
The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, complete with giant floats and music, is an iconic event which has been running since 1924.
While Americans pack to the streets to watch the show, Canadians usually only leave home for a fall walk or to see family over Thanksgiving weekend.
8) The food can be a little different.C
Depending on where in Canada you're from — and how purely Canadian your traditions are — the food can be a little different, too.
Yes, we both eat turkey — the tradition of eating turkey at Thanksgiving reportedly came after the American Revolution, when many British loyalists fled to Canada as refugees.
I also grew up eating stuffing, root vegetables, potatoes, and gravy, with some sort of pie for dessert.
However, the hardcore Canadians might also have ham and tourtiere — a pastry pie filled with potatoes. You're also much less likely to eat sweet potatoes and marshmallows than you are in the US. You also won't find any cornbread.
9) Different families eat on different days of the weekend.
Despite the fact the holiday falls on Monday, families may choose to have their Thanksgiving dinner on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday — though, Sunday and Monday seem to be most common. We usually had ours on Sunday.
10) It's the perfect time to see the leaves change.
In Canada, Thanksgiving is perfectly timed with the change of the season, meaning beautiful colours as the leaves change, as well as autumn flavours such as apple, pumpkin, maple, and cranberry. It's a Pumpkin Spice Latte lover's dream.
2) It's not as big a deal as American Thanksgiving.
Many Americans tell me that Thanksgiving is a bigger deal in their family and circle of friends than Christmas — but it's the opposite for most Canadians.
Living in the UK, my Canadian friends tend to fly home for Christmas, while my American colleagues make the trip for Thanksgiving instead.
This may be because of all of the other events associated with it in the US — the shopping, the football, the parade — while the Canadian version is really just about enjoying some time with family and friends (and plenty of food).
Put simply, Canadian Thanksgiving is just more chilled out — not unlike Canadians themselves.