When Is Canadian Thanksgiving, and How Is It Different from American Thanksgiving?

This is why Turkey Day is celebrated earlier in Canada.

We're used to celebrating Thanksgiving in mid-November, but for our northern neighbors, Turkey Day comes a whole month earlier. Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October, and while it's not exactly the same as American Thanksgiving, there are plenty of similarities between the two.

Unlike the Thanksgiving story we grew up hearing, the Canadian holiday doesn't involve the Mayflower. In fact, it began as a religious observance. Canadian Thanksgiving dates back to the 1860s when Protestant ministers in Canada asked the government to declare an official holiday to remind people to thank God for the fall harvest each year. The ministers believed that a fruitful harvest was proof of God's existence, so a church holiday was created.

roast turkey citrus sage
Carson Downing

Newspapers would print Thanksgiving sermons, and everyone was given the day off to attend worship services. Over the next few decades, print media from the U.S. became more readily available in Canada, and Canadians learned more about Thanksgiving celebrations in America. Slowly Canadians began adopting some aspects of the Americanized way of celebrating the holiday.

The holiday moved from mid-week to the second Monday of the month, so that people would have a three-day weekend (making it easier to travel and spend the holiday with family). Over the last several decades, the day has also become more about being thankful to be Canadian; it's now a day of national pride, along with thanksgiving for friends, family, and food.

When Is Canadian Thanksgiving?

In Canada, Thanksgiving is always held on the second Monday of October. This year, Canadian Thanksgiving is Monday, October 11.

How Is Canadian Thanksgiving Different from American Thanksgiving?

Aside from the origin stories, Canadian Thanksgiving isn't much different than American Thanksgiving. The main difference these days is the timing. Because Canada is so much farther north, their harvest season begins much earlier than it does in the states. And because Thanksgiving is such a food-centric holiday, it makes sense to celebrate while fresh produce is available.

So if November 25 is too long to wait for turkey, stuffing, and green bean casserole, go ahead and celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving this year as well. It'll give you the chance to try out any new recipes before the big family dinner, and you'll have an excuse to eat pumpkin pie twice.

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