Do they celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada? When is Canadian Thanksgiving 2021, how is it celebrated - origins

Some historians believe that Canada’s first Thanksgiving festival may actually have pre-dated that of the US

(Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

Today (25 November) is Thanksgiving in the US, a celebration that is arguably more widely celebrated than Christmas in the States.

But do other places - like Canada - observe the holiday?

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Here is everything you need to know.

Do Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving?

Yes, the people of Canada do celebrate Thanksgiving.

However, given the different histories between the two countries, their version of the holiday is different to that of America.

When is Canadian Thanksgiving?

For a start, in Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on a different date to the US holiday.

Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October, as that is when the Canadian harvest would be complete.

Therefore, Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving on Monday 11 October in 2021.

When did Canadian Thanksgiving begin?

Some historians believe that Canada’s first Thanksgiving festival may actually have pre-dated that of the US.

Some believe the first celebration of Thanksgiving in North America occurred during the 1579 voyage of Martin Frobisher, an English seaman in search of the Northwest Passage, a sea route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the Arctic Ocean.

His third expedition was plagued by freak storms, the loss of one of his boats, and many other difficulties, which would often scatter the fleet.

When the remaining boats were reunited, they celebrated Holy Communion, sparking a tradition that would be mirrored by French settlers years later, and eventually morphed into festivals of thanks for safe passage.

How is it celebrated?

Despite being held on a different date to the American Thanksgiving, Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated in much the same way.

It correlates roughly to the European harvest festivals which would have been celebrated by transatlantic settlers in the country’s early years, with churches decorated with cornucopias, pumpkins, corn, wheat sheaves, and other harvest bounty.

During and after the American Revolution, American refugees who remained loyal to Great Britain moved from the newly independent United States to Canada, bringing with them the customs and practices of the American Thanksgiving , such as the turkey, pumpkin, and squash.

While the actual Thanksgiving holiday is on a Monday, Canadians may gather for their Thanksgiving feast on any day during the long weekend; however, Sunday is considered the most common.

Foods traditionally served at Thanksgiving include roasted turkey, roast beef, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet corn, and various autumnal vegetables.

Thanksgiving is a statutory holiday in most of Canada, apart from in the Atlantic provinces of Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick where it’s optional.

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