October 8, 2021 | by: Jamie Paterson


This weekend is Thanksgiving weekend… here in Canada.

Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October. Americans celebrate it on the fourth Thursday in November.

Why the different days?

The simplest answer is, we have our Fall harvest much earlier than they do. Winter comes sooner, so the bountiful fall harvest does too. There have been many dates over the years were both nations have celebrated the traditional day of giving thanks, feasting and celebrating with loved ones.

Canadian Thanksgiving celebrations were held for everything from explorer Martin Frobisher’s successful crossing of the Northwest Passage in 1578, to various war victories, to the recovery of the Price of Wales sickness in 1872. Canada officially chose the date of second Monday in October by Parliament in 1957.

In the US, the first holiday tradition was traced to a 1621 event in Virginia known as the Plymouth feast.  Pilgrims and Puritans who began emigrating from England in the 1620s and 1630s carried the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving with them to New England in the USA.  On November 26, 1789, George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration in America “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.” Over the next several years, the date on which Thanksgiving was observed varied from state to state. The last Thursday in November became the customary date in most U.S. states by the beginning of the 19th century.
On December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the national Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday. This was to give the country an economic boost.
The change did have an effect on USA economy, ultimately creating Black Friday.
(it also created the 4-day-weekend)

In Canada the holiday is on Monday, giving us a 3-day weekend.
(just like downs in football, the US gets 4 while we have to make good with 3)

Food traditions vary widely by region and heritage, but over all here are some food differences between our countries.

  • Canadian Thanksgiving pumpkin pie can be spicy – including nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cinnamon (aka Pumkin Spice).  American pumpkin pie can be more sweet and often times will have custard texture to it.
  • Canadians will often bake or mash sweet potatoes, but Americans generally add butter, sugar, pecan and spices to make a casserole topped with marshmallows.
  • Canadians use bread crumbs or sometimes rice for stuffing. In the U.S. , stuffing is made with a cornbread base in Southern states, oysters are used in the Eastern states, and the Northern states sometimes use rice.
  • Americans have many specific regional dishes like Collard greens (a leafy vegtable similar to such as kale, turnip greens, and spinach), Cornbread is often used for pudding or side rolls, and green beans are frenquently served as a casserole with crispy onions.
  • Canadians frequently have root vegetables as part of the experience. Turnip, squash, carrots, broccoli and peas are frequently served as well.

All in all, both countries use the holiday to celebrate giving thanks and spending time with family.

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

~ Jamie