5 things to know about Canadian Thanksgiving

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About to celebrate your first Thanksgiving in Canada? Here are 5 things you should know about this holiday:

  1. It is held every second Monday of October

    • We celebrate Thanksgiving in October.
    • Americans celebrate it in the fourth Thursday of November.
    • Canada is further north so the harvest comes earlier. This is why Thanksgiving is also earlier.
    • Canadians had many different dates for Thanksgiving in the past.
      • Earliest celebrations:
        • The First Nations’ festivals of completion and abundance of the harvest.
        • Celebration of explorer Sir Martin Frobisher’s safe arrival in the eastern Arctic in 1578.
        • November 6 as a Day of Thanksgiving in 1879. It was considered a national holiday.
      • Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day (November 11) were celebrated in the same week in the First World War.
      • The government moved it to the second Monday of October in 1957.
  2. Thanksgiving is about harvest

    • Canadian Thanksgiving is about celebrating the harvest.
    • American Thanksgiving points to the Pilgrims’ feast at the Plymouth Plantation in 1621. It is considered the first Thanksgiving in the US.
    • Thanksgiving for Canada would be “a day of general thanksgiving to the almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada had been blessed.”
    • Today’s Thanksgiving celebration is a day to show gratitude for all our blessings (not just the harvest). It is an occasion to share a wonderful feast with our family and friends.
  3. It is an official holiday

    • Thanksgiving is one of the eight official holidays in Manitoba. This means you’ll have a long weekend.
    • Most stores are closed. Some open for a few hours.
    • Check store schedules before you go.
  4. Turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie

    • Thanksgiving food:
      • roasted turkey
      • stuffing
      • mashed potatoes with gravy
      • cranberry sauce
      • sweet corn
      • sweet potatoes
      • pumpkin pie
    • But you can serve your own dishes.
    • Many Canadian families celebrate with food like dim sum, ham, slaw, and others.
    • Canada is a country with many cultures. This is expected.
  5. It is not about shopping

    • There are only a few “Thanksgiving Week Sales” in Canada. Its biggest shopping day is on December 26, Boxing Day.
    • Black Friday is the next day after Thanksgiving in the US.
      • Black Friday is a big shopping day.
      • Many people go out because of the big discounts and special offers on this day.
      • It is the start of the Christmas shopping season for them.

 
Sources: The First Thanksgiving in North America by Laura Neilson Bonikowsky (Canadian Encyclopedia); Canadian Thanksgiving (kidzworld.com); Three ways Canadian Thanksgiving differs from American Thanksgiving, Carolyn Ali (Inside Vancouver).

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