Canada celebrates Thanksgiving next Monday on October 13th. Some think this tradition of Thanksgiving in Canada is kind of a copycat affair to emulate their southern neighbors. Nothing could be further from the truth.
While the national recognition of Thanksgiving officially making it a holiday on the 2nd Monday of October didn’t happen until 1879, well after the American holiday was established in the 1860s, many forget that the common ancestral roots of most Canadians and Americans made the celebration of Thanksgiving almost ritualistic in history. In fact, the earliest Thanksgiving observances in Canada date back to 1578, some 50 years or more before the famed first American Thanksgiving.
While the Canadian Thanksgiving focuses on the bounty of the harvest and recounting of blessings and good fortune from God, just like the American Thanksgiving, there are some noted differences.
Thanksgiving is a statutory holiday in most of Canada, meaning that it is celebrated nationally, but can also be legislated at the provincial and territorial levels. But in Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, Thanksgiving is optional. Most Canadians still get the day off, but others get paid overtime for working.
Looking for a Canadian version of Black Friday? Forget it. It just doesn’t happen. The Canadians have left the commercialization of Thanksgiving and the meshing of Thanksgiving and Christmas strictly to the Americans. Historically, Canada’s biggest shopping day of the year is Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. Imagine Black Friday, but with thousands of people returning disappointing gifts.
Even though turkey is the most common meal on Canadian Thanksgiving, it isn’t mandatory grub. Plenty of families have ham, dim sum, chicken or, you know, whatever they feel like.