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Difference Between Thanksgiving in US and Thanksgiving in Canada

Thanksgiving in US vs Thanksgiving in Canada

Thanksgiving is widely celebrated in the United States and Canada. It probably equals, if not exceeds, the grandness of Christmas Day. As its name suggests, Thanksgiving is dedicated for remembering graces and thanking God’s bounty. The event’s significance however varies between U.S. and Canada. Further differences are also apparent in many aspects such as origins, holiday duration, date of celebration, banquet and customary activities held along with it.

‘Jour de l’Action de grace’ or simply Thanksgiving in Canada is a festival intended for thanking God’s grace and bounty, especially for providing them a plentiful harvest. The customary celebration began even before European settlers occupied Canadian territories. It was a tradition held by first nations including Native Americans, specifically Pueblo, Cree and Cherokee. That known to Europeans was started by Martin Forbisher, who formally held a homecoming celebration for his safe return from his Northwest Passage ordeal. In the United States, it is celebrated to thank God’s generosity as well and to commemorate the Native American’s kindness to settlers of the new world.  The tradition has its roots in the early 1600’s when the first group of English immigrants arrived at Berkeley Hundred, Colony of Virginia. The batch appointed their day of arrival as a day of thanksgiving to God which would then be celebrated annually. The tradition also traces back to harvest feasts held by settlers in the Plymouth Plantation.

In America, the celebration runs through a four-day weekend, which is from Thursday to Sunday. It begins on the 4th Thursday of November. On the other hand, it’s earlier and shorter in Canada. It’s a three-day weekend from Saturday to Monday and begins on the 2nd Monday of October.

One of the most crucial aspects of Thanksgiving both in Canada and America is the dinner banquet. Since it is a great time for the family to get together, meals are usually served in bulk and buckets. On the table are various foods of the season. In the US, fall vegetables such as pumpkins are baked into pies. Sweet corn and sweet potatoes are also often included in the meal set. And of course, who would forget the star of the banquet – baked or roasted turkey. In fact, it is so important that others would term the holiday, ‘Turkey Day’. Additionally, mashed potatoes with gravy and mixed vegetables would be the standard side dishes. Thanksgiving meal in Canada is almost similar with that in America except for some intricacies in recipe. For instance, they like their pumpkin pie in Canada, baked spicy with a flavorful mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, whereas in America, it is usually sweet and custard-based. Sweet potatoes in Canada are served plain and pureed, while in America, they are combined with sugar, butter, cream and marshmallow to form a dessert casserole dish.  Wheat-based bread is served in Canada, while sliced loaves, muffins, or cornbread are commonplace in an American Thanksgiving meal. For stuffing, rice or bread crumbs is used in both countries. However, cornbread and oysters are also used in some parts of the US.

Along with family gatherings and festive banquets, Thanksgiving in both countries are popularly associated with football games also known as ‘Thanksgiving Day Classic’. Parades are also a must, though they are grander, held as a nationwide event, in America than in Canada where they are mostly held only locally. Post-thanksgiving shopping sprees have also been part of it. In America, they call it ‘Black Friday’ to connote turning red numbers (losses) into black ones (profit).


  1. Thanksgiving in America is a 4-day holiday remembering God’s bounty and the generosity of Native Americans to early European settler. In Canada, it is a 3-day celebration intended for thanking God’s grace in providing them a fruitful harvest.
  2. It is held on the 2nd Monday of October in Canada and on the 4th Thursday of November in America.
  3. Feasts are almost similar in both countries. Main dishes include baked or roasted turkey and vegetables and crops in season.
  4. Thanksgiving Day Classic football games, Black Friday shopping sprees, and festive parades are associated with modern-day Thanksgiving holiday.

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