Canadian Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching. It shares a name with the American version of the holiday and there are several similarities between how the two events are celebrated – but there are quite a few differences too.
Today we are going to take a look at a few of the most notable differences you’ll find between the two holidays (that will make for great conversation over your next Thanksgiving dinner).
Let’s get started.
The Dates Are Different
The most obvious difference between the two Thanksgivings is that they are celebrated at different times of the year. Canadian Thanksgiving occurs first and falls on the second Monday in October (which is October 8th in 2018). Coincidentally this is the same day as Columbus day in the USA, but there is no connection between the two holidays. American Thanksgiving falls over a month later on the 4th Thursday of November – this year it’s on November 22nd.
They Celebrate Different Events
The reason the dates are so different between these two holidays is that they started off by celebrating entirely different events. There’s a little bit of a debate surrounding the origins of Canadian Thanksgiving, but historians are generally agreed on the fact that the first Thanksgiving in North America was a Canadian one.
Sir Martin Frobisher (an English explorer) and the crew of his ship are often credited with being the first people to celebrate Thanksgiving in an event that happened in Newfoundland in 1578 (but there are several historians who will argue against this). The sailors were trying to find the northwest passage through to Asia, but instead, they found North America. They celebrated their arrival (and the survival of the perilous journey) and thus Thanksgiving was born.
The American version of Thanksgiving in Plymouth, MA didn’t make an appearance until over 40 years later in 1621.
It Has Only “Recently” Been Made Official
Part of the disagreement surrounding the time and location of the first Canadian Thanksgiving is not helped along by the ever-changing date of the holiday.
American Thanksgiving has always celebrated the same event (the pilgrims being thankful for a bountiful harvest) but the Canadian version has had different meanings throughout the years. These days we’re usually celebrating a bountiful harvest, but in the past, we’ve held different Thanksgiving celebrations, at different times of the year, for different reasons.
Here are 3 of the most interesting ones:
In recent years Canadians have been celebrating Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October (which has been happening since 1931) and this date was made official by parliament in 1957.
We Don’t Have Black Friday
While Black Friday has started to become more commonplace in Canada over the years, it’s still nowhere near on the scale of how it takes place in the USA.
The biggest shopping day of the year in Canada is boxing day (the day after Christmas day) when the stores are full of people trying to take advantage of the traditionally generous discounts and deals that are on offer. It’s an action-packed event where long lines of people waiting to return unwanted gifts mingle with shoppers who are competing with one another to find the best deals.
Despite all this excitement, it’s a tame and calm event compared to the chaotic American black Friday scenes that regularly make the rounds on the News channels every year - but it can certainly put the famous Canadian politeness to the test.