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With the coming of fall, the age-old question returns: what exactly is the difference between Canadian and American thanksgiving? Other than the dates in which we celebrate, they can’t be all that different, right?
There’s actually more differences between Canadian thanksgiving and the one of our southern neighbors than you might think!
For starters, we get together on different days of the week for thanksgiving- Americans on the Thursday and Canadians typically on the Sunday or the Monday. We also celebrate nearly a full 2 months earlier than the U.S.! Thanksgiving for Canadians falls on the second Monday of October every year, while Americans celebrate on the fourth Thursday of November. Thanksgiving is optional for Atlantic Canadians, while Americans all across the U.S., coast to coast, celebrate annually.
The origins of the holiday differ in each country. And get this; contrary to popular belief, Canadian thanksgiving may actually be older! The earliest thanksgiving in Canada is said to have been in 1578, when French explorer Martin Frobisher and his crew wanted to thank God for safe passage to the New World. The first American thanksgiving was not until 1621, when American pilgrims celebrated their first feast in the New World, military victory, and their new partnership with the native people in the region.
Canadian thanksgiving is rumoured to be much earlier in the autumn to line up with the harvest, which falls earlier than in the United States. Many say that part of the Canadian thanksgiving origins involve giving thanks to God for the bountiful harvest, which is why thanksgiving was officially declared to be in early October every year.
Americans get more time off of work for the holiday, getting a full 4 day weekend for the occasion. Canadians typically only get thanksgiving Monday off of work, in addition to their regular weekend.
There are also a few differences concerning food served at Thanksgiving dinner between the two countries. Martha Stewart remarks in her blog that while both typically opt for Turkey as the meat of choice at the meal, there are many key differences in sides served. For one, both usually serve sweet potatoes, but only Americans prepare theirs with marshmallows. Canadians tend to prepare theirs either whipped or pureed, flavouring with Dijon and buttermilk instead.
Americans enjoy a sweeter pumpkin pie, topping with whipped cream, while according to Martha Stewart; Canadians prefer a more spiced pumpkin pie with ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Apparently, Canadians take the tradition of pumpkin pie a lot less seriously as well, and many will often go for an apple pie, maple flavoured dessert, or some form of cake or doughnuts instead!
There is also a lot more bacon involved in the Canadian thanksgiving sides as well as root vegetables and sometimes tourtiere (depending on where in Canada you live). Sides such as cornbread are only popular for Americans at their thanksgiving celebrations.
Canadian thanksgiving is associated a lot less with sports than American thanksgiving. While the CFL hosts an annual thanksgiving special, it is rare that the game will actually be turned on during the meal (contrary to our neighbours south of the border!). We also don’t have a parade celebrating the day, that’s just in the U.S.!
There is also no Canadian version of Black Friday the day after thanksgiving celebrations. Although, due to growing popularity over the last several years, many Canadian stores have held major sales on the same day as Americans in order to compete with American retailers and discourage Canadians from crossing the border for major sales that day.
Now you can surprise your family with a few fun facts about Canadian thanksgiving at your next thanksgiving feast! Feel free to leave a comment with any other interesting facts you might have about thanksgiving in the Great, White North!
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