Thanksgiving in America vs. Thanksgiving in Canada: Similarities and Differences

Thanksgiving is a beloved holiday in North America, celebrated by millions of people in the United States and Canada. While the two holidays share many similarities, such as the importance on family and gratitude, there are also some key differences between Thanksgiving in America and Thanksgiving in Canada.

We will explore the similarities and differences between these two holidays, from their histories and traditions to their cultural significance.

Whether you are an American or a Canadian, or simply curious about different holiday traditions, this post will provide you with a fun and informative look at how Thanksgiving is celebrated in North America.

History of Thanksgiving in America and Canada

Thanksgiving in America

The origins of Thanksgiving in America can be traced back to the 1620s when the Pilgrims, a group of English settlers, arrived at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. After a harsh winter where many died from disease and starvation, the Pilgrims were befriended by the Wampanoag Native American tribe.

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims and Wampanoags celebrated a successful harvest with a feast that lasted for three days. This feast is considered the first Thanksgiving in America.

Thanksgiving became an annual tradition in America during the mid-1800s, on Oct. 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November as a National Day of Thanksgiving and prayer.

Later, in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill making Thanksgiving a federal holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

Thanksgiving in Canada

The history of Thanksgiving in Canada dates back to 1578 when English explorer Martin Frobisher held a ceremony in Newfoundland to give thanks for surviving a long journey across the Atlantic. However, it was not until 1879 that Thanksgiving became an official holiday in Canada.

In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October, which is earlier than American Thanksgiving. This is because Canada’s harvest season occurs earlier than in the United States, and the holiday is meant to give thanks for a successful harvest.

While the origins of Thanksgiving in America and Canada are different, both holidays share a common theme of giving thanks for abundance and good fortune.

Must Read: Why do we Celebrate Thanksgiving Day and its Origin?

Similarities Between Thanksgiving in America and Canada

Despite the differences in their histories, Thanksgiving in America and Canada share many similarities in terms of how they are celebrated. Here are a few of the most notable similarities:

  • Emphasis on Family: Both American and Canadian Thanksgivings are family-oriented holidays, where people gather to share a meal and spend time with loved ones. It is common for families to travel long distances to be with each other on Thanksgiving.
  • Gratitude and Giving Thanks: Both holidays share a focus on gratitude and giving thanks. During the Thanksgiving meal, it is customary for each person to express what they are grateful for. Many people also volunteer their time or donate to charity during the holiday season.
  • Traditional Foods: Traditional Thanksgiving foods are similar in both countries. Roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie are staples of the Thanksgiving meal in both America and Canada.
  • Football: Football is also a popular pastime during Thanksgiving in both countries. Many families will gather around the TV to watch the traditional Thanksgiving Day games.

Overall, the similarities between Thanksgiving in America and Canada highlight the common values of family, gratitude, and togetherness that are cherished in both countries.

Check Out: Thanksgiving on a Budget: How to Save Money While Still Enjoying the Holiday

Differences Between Thanksgiving in America and Thanksgiving in Canada

While Thanksgiving in America and Canada share some similarities, there are also notable differences in how the holidays are celebrated. Here are a few key differences:

  • Dates: The most obvious difference between the two holidays is the date on which they are celebrated. American Thanksgiving is held on the fourth Thursday in November, while Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October.
  • Historical Origins: The historical origins of the holidays differ as well. American Thanksgiving has its roots in the 1621 harvest feast shared by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians, while Canadian Thanksgiving traces its roots to a 1578 thanksgiving celebration by English explorer Martin Frobisher.
  • Religious Significance: While American Thanksgiving has largely secular origins, Canadian Thanksgiving has traditionally been a religious holiday, with many churches holding special services of thanksgiving.
  • Traditional Foods: While traditional Thanksgiving foods are similar in both countries, there are some differences in the dishes served. For example, in Canada, it is common to serve roasted ham alongside the turkey, while in America, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole are popular side dishes.
  • Shopping: In America, the day after Thanksgiving, known as “Black Friday,” has become synonymous with shopping and retail sales. In Canada, there is no equivalent shopping event associated with Thanksgiving.

These differences highlight the unique cultural traditions and histories that shape the ways in which Thanksgiving is celebrated in America and Canada.

Also See: The History of Thanksgiving: Why We Celebrate and How It Has Changed Over Time

Bottom Line: Thanksgiving in America vs. Thanksgiving in Canada

While Thanksgiving in America and Canada share some similarities, there are also notable differences between the two holidays. Both holidays are an opportunity to meet with loved ones, express thankfulness, and enjoy a traditional feast.

However, the historical origins, religious significance, and specific traditions associated with each holiday differ. Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving in America or Canada, the holiday is a time to reflect on what you are thankful for and spend time with those you care about.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Why is Thanksgiving important?

A: Thanksgiving is important because it is a time to pause and reflect on the things, we are thankful for in our lives. It is also an opportunity to spend time with loved ones and strengthen relationships.

Q: Do other countries celebrate Thanksgiving?

A: Thanksgiving is primarily celebrated in America and Canada, although there are similar harvest festivals and thanksgiving celebrations in other countries around the world.

Q: Can vegetarians and vegans celebrate Thanksgiving?

A: Yes, vegetarians and vegans can celebrate Thanksgiving by preparing plant-based versions of traditional dishes or by creating entirely new dishes that celebrate seasonal ingredients.

Q: How can I give back on Thanksgiving?

A: Giving back on Thanksgiving can involve volunteering at a local charity, donating to a food bank, or simply reaching out to someone in need. It is a time to remember the importance of kindness and generosity.

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