The origins of Canadian and American Thanksgiving are distinct, but that isn’t the only distinction between the holidays.
Sure, they share some similarities — colder, fall weather and eating turkey — but as a Canadian, I’m always amazed at how much more relaxed and low-key our holidays are.
Scroll down to see how Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in ways Americans do not.
We have our celebration almost two months earlier.
Canadian Thanksgiving takes place on the second Monday in October, instead of the fourth Thursday in November.
One theory is that the harvest, which is thought to be part of the history of Thanksgiving, simply begins earlier in Canada than it does in the United States.
It’s the ideal time to watch the leaves change.
Thanksgiving in Canada is perfectly timed with the change of seasons, which means beautiful colors as the leaves change, as well as autumn flavors like apple, pumpkin, maple, and cranberry. It’s every Pumpkin Spice Latte fan’s dream.
We don’t get as many vacation days.
The Monday after Thanksgiving is a mandatory holiday in most parts of Canada, with the exception of the Atlantic provinces (Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador), where it is an optional holiday. Americans have the weekend on both Friday and Monday.
According to Bustle, Thanksgiving, also known as “Action de Grâce,” is even less important in Quebec, where many people do not celebrate it at all.
However, Thanksgiving in Canada may have been the first.
According to Business Insider, the first recorded Canadian Thanksgiving celebration occurred in 1578, following explorer Martin Frobisher’s third voyage to Canada.
When he arrived in Nunavut, he apparently had a big celebration to thank God for the safe passage after losing one of his ships along the way.
According to Time, this was years before the first recorded US feast between Pilgrims and Native Americans at Plymouth in 1621, an event that is now more somber for many Native Americans due to the war that followed a generation later.
They exist for various reasons.
Throughout history, Canadian Thanksgiving has always seemed to revolve around the harvest season, which begins earlier in Canada than it does in the United States. According to one theory, Thanksgiving originated with French Settlers who arrived in Canada in the early 17th century and wanted to celebrate their harvests in what was then New France.
It is not centered on sports…
Although the Canadian Football League hosts a nationally televised doubleheader on Thanksgiving Day, growing up in Canada, my family never watched it, and none of my friends’ families did either.
Unlike in the United States, where everyone seems to be watching the game, only true football fans watch sports on Thanksgiving in Canada — everyone else is too busy eating.
…Or going shopping.
During the Thanksgiving holiday, Canada does not observe “Black Friday.” In fact, there are no major shopping sales planned for the weekend. However, we do have some Black Friday sales in November, at the same time as the United States.
There will be no parade.
The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, complete with massive floats and music, has been an iconic event since 1924.
While Americans flock to the streets to watch the show, Canadians typically only leave the house for a fall walk or to visit family during the Thanksgiving holiday.
The food can be a little unusual.
The food can also vary depending on where you are in Canada and how purely Canadian your traditions are.
Yes, we both eat turkey on Thanksgiving — the tradition of eating turkey on Thanksgiving is said to have originated following the American Revolution, when many British loyalists fled to Canada as refugees.
I grew up eating stuffing, root vegetables, potatoes, and gravy, with pie for dessert.
Hardcore Canadians, on the other hand, may order ham and tourtiere, a pastry pie filled with potatoes. You’re also less likely to consume sweet potatoes and marshmallows than you are in the United States. There will also be no cornbread.
Different families eat on different weekends.
Despite the fact that the holiday falls on Monday, families may choose to have Thanksgiving dinner on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday — though Sunday and Monday appear to be the most popular. Ours was usually on Sunday.