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What is Canadian Thanksgiving, Anyway? What is Canadian Thanksgiving, Anyway?

What is Canadian Thanksgiving, Anyway?

by Siobhan O'Connor
October 12, 2010


As GOOD's resident Canadian, I will herein explain the mysterious holiday known as Canadian Thanksgiving. If I missed any of your burning questions, you can put them in the comments.

So, when is it?

It's today.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Thanks.

Why is it called Canadian Thanksgiving?

It's not. In Canada, it's just called Thanksgiving.

But why is it so early in the fall?

Because Canada is colder and the harvest ends sooner.

If you were in Canada with your family, what would be for dinner?

Same stuff: turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, and mashed potatoes, which, if you're my grandmother, you mix with turnips. Also, candied yams. And pumpkin pie for dessert.

Does everyone crowd around the TV after dinner to watch football?

The guys do, yeah.

Is it always on October 11th?

No. Since 1957, it's been celebrated on the second Monday in October. Before that, it was celebrated on November 11, which is the date of another mysterious Canadian holiday called Remembrance Day, when you make sure to call your grandfather, or anyone else you know who fought in a war. Long before it had National Holiday status, however, the harvest was celebrated by natives.

What's the holiday all about?

It's a celebration of the harvest, where you give thanks (to God, technically) for all the food you get to eat. For the most part, it's celebrated as a secular holiday, though.

What about settlers and Pilgrims—are they involved?

According to Google, the first Canadian Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1578 when a lost English explorer named Martin Frobisher landed in what is now the butt of many Canadian jokes—Newfoundland. But as a public-school-educated kid who was taught all kinds of Canadian things growing up, that's the first I've ever heard of it, or him.

So, really, it's all about the food.

Yeah.

Do Canadians have their big dinner on the actual day of Thanksgiving?

Canadians are practical and Monday is a school night, so usually not. The big dinner is traditionally the night before, on the Sunday.

Are things closed on Thanksgiving like they are in the Unites States?

Yes, although if you live in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, or Prince Edward Island it's not a statutory holiday, which means it's not a paid day off. But most stores are closed.

Is the day after Thanksgiving the biggest shopping day of the year?

Nope. That would be Boxing Day, yet another mysterious Canadian holiday, which is the day after Christmas. It's when everyone returns the stuff they got for the stuff they actually want, but for cheaper.

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