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Thanksgiving is a special and cherished holiday but celebrated in America and Canada in different ways. Beside gathering and Thanksgiving dinner, how is Canadian Thanksgiving totally different from American Thanksgiving? This article will tell you about their traditions and celebrations. So, buckle up for a Happy Thanksgiving ride!

In this article
    1. Traditional Celebrations
    2. Modern Celebrations
    1. Traditional Celebrations
    2. Modern Celebrations
    1. Canadian Thanksgiving Comes Early
    2. Thanksgiving Food and Flavors Are Different
    3. There are no Black Friday Sales in Canada
    4. Football is Crucial for Americans
    5. Canadian Thanksgiving is Rather Quiet

Origin and Evolution of Thanksgiving in Canada

Before we start, let’s go back in time and see how Canadian Thanksgiving started. There are two groups of historians with two different stories.

As per the first group, Canadian Thanksgiving traces its roots to Martin Frobisher's voyage in 1578. He hosted the first-ever Thanksgiving to celebrate his safe return from the trip.

The second group attributes Canadian Thanksgiving to French settlers. They held a series of festivities to celebrate successful harvests. Soon, this became associated with Canadian Thanksgiving history.

Initially, Canadian Thanksgiving was to be on November 6th. However, the Canadian government declared the second Monday of October as official Thanksgiving Day in 1957. This decision saved the encounter with another holiday, Remembrance Day, on 11 Nov.

History of Canadian Thanksgiving

How to Celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving?

Whether you opt for a traditional style or crave a modern feel, Thanksgiving is flexible enough to cater to your mood.

Let’s explore ways to celebrate it in customary and contemporary styles.

Traditional Celebrations

  1. Feast Preparation: In Canada, people will start the big dinner on the Sunday before Thanksgiving Monday. The roasted Turkey is a must with side dishes including gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, yams, corn, and many more.
  2. Thanksgiving Decorations: Similarly, traditional celebrations are incomplete without fall-themed decorations. Numerous accessories fill the market with autumnal colors like brown, orange, and maroon that stand for Thanksgiving spirit.
  3. Express Gratitude: Take this time to discuss why you’re most grateful for this Thanksgiving, as it’s just the right time to acknowledge the numerous blessings in life.
Thanksgiving decorated table

Modern Celebrations

  1. Eco-friendly celebrations: To modernize your Thanksgiving celebrations, promote and use locally produced, organic, and seasonal ingredients. This is the age of social media. So, your decision to support eco-friendly practices, use minimal plastic, and purchase food from farmers' markets will go a long way.
  2. Home Party: Invite friends or neighbors who don't have anyone to celebrate this wholesome event with. You can also ask them to bring a dish of their own. Use this opportunity to familiarize people with your festivals.
  3. FaceTime: Just like any other holidays, facetime your loved ones who live elsewhere and couldn’t make it this Thanksgiving. Or post about what you are grateful for on social media to spread Thanksgiving vibes worldwide.
Welcoming guests on Thanksgiving

Origin of Thanksgiving in America

Compared to Canadian Thanksgiving, American Thanksgiving has a commonly accepted history and a very well-known one. In 1621, William Bradford, the leader of pilgrims, declared the first Thanksgiving to celebrate the harvest after the deadly winter of the previous year.

The pilgrims struggled to keep themselves alive and often stole corn from the Wampanoag to live. However, both parties decided to have a peace treaty and turned friends. Hence, they worked together and had their first "Thanksgiving," where they celebrated successful harvests.

About 250 years later, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln announced Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

How to Celebrate American Thanksgiving?

Unlike Canadians, Thanksgiving has its special ways in the U.S. Let’s take a look at the traditional and modern celebrations for American Thanksgiving.

Traditional Celebrations

  1. Roasted Turkey: American Thanksgiving is also incomplete without a turkey. However, Americans typically roast the whole bird to make it the centerpiece of their meal. Traditional side dishes include stuffing (or dressing), mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and so many more!
  2. Parades: Parades have been a part of American Thanksgiving history for a long time. Even now, numerous Americans come together to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. It is broadcast nationwide for folks at home as well.
    Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
  3. Thanksgiving Prayer: Sitting down together to discuss the history of Thanksgiving and praying is another tradition. Time to acknowledge the Native Americans who watched over this land long before us!

Modern Celebrations

Shopping: With Black Friday sales around the corner, what about supporting ethical and sustainable brands? Also, consider sharing your purchases with the less privileged in the spirit of Thanksgiving.

Try Different Recipe: Embrace the diversity of modern times by trying out recipes from different cultures in your Thanksgiving meal. Fusion cuisines can often add a modern twist to the traditional feast, and it's always exciting to try new and unique flavors.

Watch Football Game: Cozy up with your loved ones to watch the long-awaited football games that the NFL usually hosts several times throughout the day

people watching football match

Differences: Canadian Thanksgiving and American Thanksgiving

Now that we have discussed both Thanksgivings separately, time to find out some differences between both:

Canadian Thanksgiving Comes Early

First things first, Canadians are celebrating Thanksgiving almost two months before Americans. This is mainly because of the weather and harvesting season coming earlier for Canada. After all, it is further north geographically compared to America.

Thanksgiving Food and Flavors Are Different

The second difference is that of Thanksgiving food and flavors. For instance, Americans - famous for their sweet tooth - make their pumpkin pie sweet and further pair it with custard or marshmallows. While in Canada, pumpkin pie is spicier with plenty of ginger, cloves, and cinnamon.

Likewise, Canadians enjoy bread rolls, glazed yams, and cranberry sauce. And pie isn’t essential to the dessert menu. They would prefer cakes or doughnuts instead.

There are no Black Friday Sales in Canada

Or, let’s say, not as exciting as American ones!

Both nations have different activities right after Thanksgiving. While Americans line up for Black Friday sales, Canadians prefer to rest after Thanksgiving as they find October too early to shop for Christmas presents. Instead, their discounts start right after Christmas!

Black Friday tag tied on denim

Football is Crucial for Americans

American Thanksgiving is incomplete without football games. However, this craze for football isn’t very prominent on the other side. Although Canada hosts football games solely for Thanksgiving, we don’t see much cheer for the game. While the NFL reigns supreme in the United States, Canadians support the Canadian Football League.

Canadian Thanksgiving is Rather Quiet

Let’s be honest here. As compared to American excitement, Canadian Thanksgiving feels silent and low-key. We make a big deal of Thanksgiving through parades, feasts, shopping, and football, but Canadians keep it rather relaxed and laid back. Some areas in Canada do not even have a Thanksgiving holiday or offer optional holidays.


American Thanksgiving and Canadian Thanksgiving may differ, but they stand for the same things - family get-togethers, fall vibes, celebrating the harvest, enjoying seasonal food, and having fun! So get in the spirit with your friends and family, as this holiday is known for bringing people closer to each other. Happy Thanksgiving, Canada, America and you all!

Axel Nash
Axel Nash Jun 07, 24
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