American Thanksgiving occurs every year on the last Thursday in November. American families join together to roast turkeys, bake pies, and give thanks for the gifts they receive every day. Everybody knows that Thanksgiving is one of the most American of holidays — but did you know that Canadians celebrate it, too?
Canadian Thanksgiving, like American Thanksgiving, is a celebration of the harvest and a day of gratitude for the simple blessings of everyday life. But, Canadian Thanksgiving has a few traditions of its own that you may be surprised to learn about.
The History of Canadian Thanksgiving
In America, Thanksgiving was first celebrated as a cooperative feast shared by Native Americans and Pilgrims. But in Canada, we have a different story.
In 1578, English explorer Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew set foot in Newfoundland. They were looking for the Northwest Passage which would bring them from the Atlantic to the Pacific to trade with the Far East, but they halted in Canada to celebrate their first sighting of the New World. The feast held by Sir Frobisher and his crew came to be known as the first Thanksgiving in North America, as they were rejoicing their safe voyage to the Western lands.
The Timing of Canadian Thanksgiving
For centuries, Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving on different days throughout the year — and sometimes it wasn’t even in the fall. After World War I, however, Canadians agreed that they would celebrate Thanksgiving as a nation on the second Monday in October. Still, not all Canadians hold their feasts on the same day; any day during the three-day weekend is a viable option for Thanksgiving festivities.
The Entertainment of Canadian Thanksgiving
Macy’s doesn’t have a completely different parade for Canadians. Instead, Canadians all over the country enjoy watching the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest parade on Thanksgiving Day. Like Macy’s, this parade has floats, balloons, and marching bands, but instead of Garfield and Underdog, this parade has uniquely Canadian icons.
Additionally, the AFL and NFL don’t have quite as big an audience in Canada, so instead of American football teams, Canadians enjoy watching their Thanksgiving Day Classic double-header of teams in the Canadian Football League. The teams vary every year, but they always put on a good show.
The Wholesomeness of Canadian Thanksgiving
In recent years, American Thanksgiving has been almost eclipsed by the massive holiday following it: Black Friday. Black Friday is a retailer’s Christmas, when gleeful revelers flock to stores of every shape and size to begin stocking up for the Christmas gifting season. Though many Americans still respect Thanksgiving for its wholesome themes, many more are starting to forget the real meaning of Thanksgiving and begin waiting for the early hours of Black Friday before the holiday of gratitude is even over.
Because Canadian Thanksgiving occurs earlier in the season, Canadians don’t participate in Black Friday events so soon after Thanksgiving. Thus, families are better able to spend quality time with one another, appreciating the gifts of the year and enjoying one another’s company.
If you’re looking for a fun family vacation in October, why not join us for our Canadian Thanksgiving celebrations? You’ll be able to see all the Niagara Fall attractions you love, plus you’ll get access to a little-known slice of Canadian culture.
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