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exploring the unique traditions canadian thanksgiving vs. american thanksgiving
Exploring the Unique Traditions: Canadian Thanksgiving vs. American Thanksgiving
exploring the unique traditions canadian thanksgiving vs. american thanksgiving

Exploring the Unique Traditions: Canadian Thanksgiving vs. American Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, a time to express gratitude and celebrate the harvest season, is a beloved tradition in North America. However, there are distinct differences between Canadian Thanksgiving and American Thanksgiving. These distinctions arise from historical, cultural, and geographical factors, shaping the way each nation commemorates this cherished holiday.

Date of Celebration

Canadian Thanksgiving takes place on the second Monday of October, a date chosen to align with the earlier arrival of the harvest season in Canada due to its northern location. In contrast, American Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, acknowledging the later harvest season in the United States.

Weekend

In the United States, Thanksgiving typically grants a four-day weekend, starting on Thursday and extending through Sunday. Canadians, however, enjoy a three-day weekend from Saturday to Monday.

National Holiday

Thanksgiving is recognized as a national holiday in all 50 states of the United States. In Canada, it’s considered optional in Atlantic Canada (Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island).

Origins

Both Canadian and American Thanksgiving share the fundamental purpose of celebrating a bountiful autumn harvest, and preparing for the challenges of winter. The U.S. traces its origins to the Mayflower pilgrims’ 1621 feast, thanking Native Americans and God for safety and assistance. On the other hand, Canada’s first Thanksgiving is attributed to explorer Martin Frobisher in 1578, expressing gratitude for a successful Northwest Passage crossing.

Thanksgiving Meal Preparation and Flavors

The centerpiece of both Canadian and American Thanksgiving meals is the turkey, complemented by stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, fall vegetables, and pumpkin pie. However, there are subtle differences in flavor and preparation, particularly in pumpkin pie. American pumpkin pie tends to be sweet and is often accompanied by custard or marshmallows. Canadian pumpkin pie is spicier, incorporating ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon.

Post-Thanksgiving Shopping

A significant contrast lies in post-Thanksgiving shopping. In the United States, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become integral to the Thanksgiving season, marked by immense shopping and lucrative retailer deals. The term “Black Friday” signifies the transition of stores from red to black (profit) for the year. Conversely, Canada doesn’t experience a similar post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy, as Christmas is further away.

Football Games

Both nations embrace a tradition of football games during Thanksgiving. The NFL dominates Thanksgiving football games in the United States, while Canadians enthusiastically support teams from the Canadian Football League (CFL).

In essence, Canadian and American Thanksgivings share the essence of gratitude and harvest celebration but manifest in unique ways influenced by historical, cultural, and temporal factors. Whether it’s the flavors of pumpkin pie or the frenzy of post-Thanksgiving shopping, each nation cherishes and embodies the spirit of Thanksgiving in its own distinctive manner.

Sources: New Pelican, Almanac, Diffen

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