American Thanksgiving vs Canadian Thanksgiving

Wondering what is the difference between Thanksgiving in the USA and Canada? Here is the full explanation and also why Thanksgiving is celebrated.

Happy Thanksgiving

American Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in the United States is not just a celebration of thanks for all the blessings the residents have been bestowed, it is a celebration of a moment in history when Americans came together with the native people of the land and realized there might be a chance for survival. For Americans, Thanksgiving originated as a celebration of hope; hope that a new life could begin in a new country, far away from the persecution certain sects were experiencing over in Europe.

That day of thanks was actually three days of continual feasting, celebrated by immigrants known as Pilgrims.  Fifty-three Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans celebrated a safe journey to the New World, and ate their fill of eel, fish, shellfish, ducks, geese, turkey, berries, fruits, and vegetables.  In the modern celebration of the holiday, turkey is traditionally served because it was once an abundant wild game bird said to have been a dish at the original supper.

While the First Thanksgiving for Americans most likely had strong religious overtones, the holiday has become much tamer in its modern version, and people of all religions and beliefs celebrate the day of togetherness. For most Americans, Thanksgiving has taken on the literal translation of “giving thanks,” regardless of spiritual inclinations.

Canadian Thanksgiving

Canadian Thanksgiving is considered a religious holiday, and is the observance of what some call the Harvest Festival, or the celebration of the harvest season and the bounty that it brings. Like the American holiday, Canadian Thanksgiving is related to the voyage of an explorer from Europe. Martin Frobisher, who was looking for the Northwest Passage in 1578, found his expedition was fraught with disaster, and though he lost one of his ships, he managed to find the remainder of his fleet and dock safely in a Canadian bay. Feeling the deliverance was a part of the divine plan, Frobisher held a mass in honor of his luck. Unfortunately, he returned to England an unlucky, poor man, and the true Canadian celebration of Thanksgiving was later attributed to French settlers with Samuel de Champlain, who held huge feasts of thanks.

Though largely seen as a religious or liturgical holiday in the country, there is a difference between Canadian Thanksgiving celebrations depending on the area of the country. Northern or “upper” Canada celebrated Thanksgiving as an observance of the end to the war between France and Great Britain, and while this was also true of “lower” Canada, the southern part of the nation celebrated Thanksgiving alongside the end of the Lower Canadian Rebellion.

Canadian Thanksgiving also does not occur on the same days as the American holiday, but does coincide with the American celebration of Columbus Day.

Regardless of the reason for the celebrations, both large nations hold a day of thanks and feasting in memorial of past times when life was much harder and blessings were far more appreciated.