The 5 Differences Between Canadian and American Thanksgiving

For as long as I can remember, I have always celebrated two Thanksgivings.

First, because my parents are divorced and second because my dad is American. Aside from the fact that I get to gorge myself on a turkey feast twice, I have always noticed some key differences between the two holidays (besides the obvious historical significance- Canadian Thanksgiving began as a celebration of a good harvest. American Thanksgiving marked the event of the pilgrims coming over to claim land as their own).


1) Timing. Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Our friends south of the border celebrate on the fourth Thursday of November. From a convenience standpoint, I’ve got to hand this win over to the Canadians. Why? American Thanksgiving is celebrated about a month before Christmas, which means an overload of both turkey, the fixings, and you having to hear your Aunt Carol blab on about her new cat, twice, in such a short timespan. I prefer having a couple months separation between the two holidays, and not to mention the weather in October makes it much more enjoyable for an evening stroll after a second helping of pumpkin pie. Lastly, if you are planning a Christmas getaway, it’s better to pig out in October to allow yourself some time to get beach body ready for December.

2) Parades and Programming. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is a cultural right of passage for Americans. I can remember watching ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ as a kid and asking my mom why we don’t have an elaborate parade. While I’m much older now, and I couldn’t give AF about parades, but I’m sure my nieces would love it. There are also a lot of Thanksgiving television specials, which we see in Canada, but feel ill timed by the time they air in November. Football also plays a huge role in American Thanksgiving. The three NFL games played on the US Thanksgiving day draw in millions of viewers, second behind the Super Bowl broadcast.


3) It’s Not A Big Deal… when it comes to Canadian Thanksgiving. While many Canadians love to celebrate the holiday with their family, it’s not as common to make the long journey across the country for the occasion. In the States it is a huge deal, in some cases even more so than Christmas. Many Americans take time off outside of the four-day weekend to celebrate with family in friends. A lot of Canadians see it as just another weekend. This weekend I’m actually missing Thanksgiving, as I will be at a wedding in the States; think they’ll serve me turkey if I ask nicely?

4) Turkey Trots. This is a new one for me. Apparently it is very common in many suburban areas in the U.S. to wake up and attend an organized run through the neighbourhood. Think of it as a way to make room for all the food you’re about to shovel down your throat. I could be wrong here, but this idea doesn’t sound half bad. I’m always a sucker for finding ways to relieve my guilt so I would be on board for this American tradition. For those that cringe at the thought of lacing up their runners, or sneakers as they call them, you may not be a fan of this tradition.

5) Black Friday. I was always jealous that Americans got to wake up the day after Thanksgiving and get to reap the sweet deals that Black Friday seemed to offer. As Canadians, we get a similar holiday, Boxing Day, which is the day following Christmas. Black Friday makes more sense, as it is a push to get started on your holiday shopping.

At the end of the day, both holidays are seen as an opportunity to give thanks to all the positive things in our life. Although, each holiday encompasses different elements, the concept of gathering with friends and family to enjoy a big meal remains the exact same.