Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Umeko Cavender



Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving! In Canada, Thanksgiving is a special time of year when families and friends come together to celebrate and give thanks for the blessings in their lives. While similar to the American holiday of the same name, Canadian Thanksgiving has its own unique history and traditions.


Canadian Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday of October, marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the fall season. It is a time to appreciate the bountiful harvest and express gratitude for all the good things in life. The holiday is widely celebrated across the country, from bustling cities to rural communities, with varying customs and festivities.


Canadian Thanksgiving also holds special significance for indigenous communities across the country, who have long celebrated the fall harvest with feasts and ceremonies. It is a time to honor the connection between the land, the people, and the abundance it provides.


In this article, we will explore the history of Canadian Thanksgiving, the traditions associated with the holiday, the traditional Thanksgiving meal, the activities and celebrations that take place during the long weekend, and the importance of giving thanks and gratitude.


So, grab a plate of pumpkin pie and join us as we dive into the rich tapestry of Canadian Thanksgiving!


History of Canadian Thanksgiving

The history of Canadian Thanksgiving can be traced back to the explorer Martin Frobisher, who held a thanksgiving celebration in 1578 to give thanks for his safe passage to the New World. However, it wasn’t until centuries later that Thanksgiving became an official holiday in Canada.


The first official Canadian Thanksgiving was celebrated on April 15, 1872. It was declared a national holiday by the Canadian Parliament in response to a public petition led by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who later became the Prime Minister of Canada.


The date of Thanksgiving was initially set for November 6, but it was later changed to the second Monday in October. This change was made to align with the harvest season and to differentiate Canadian Thanksgiving from its American counterpart, which is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.


Since its official recognition, Canadian Thanksgiving has been a time for families to come together and express gratitude for the blessings in their lives. It is seen as a time to appreciate the abundance of the harvest and the beauty of the fall season.


Canadian Thanksgiving also has strong ties to the country’s agricultural heritage. The holiday highlights the importance of farmers and their contribution to the nation’s food supply. Many communities hold harvest festivals and parades, showcasing local produce and celebrating the hard work of the farming community.


Additionally, Canadian Thanksgiving has evolved into a celebration of cultural diversity. As Canada is known for its multiculturalism, the holiday provides an opportunity for people from different backgrounds to come together and share their own traditions and customs surrounding harvest and gratitude.


Overall, the history of Canadian Thanksgiving is a tale of gratitude, harvest celebrations, and cultural appreciation. It reflects the values of unity, community, and appreciation for the good things in life.


Canadian Thanksgiving Traditions

Canadian Thanksgiving is steeped in rich traditions that have been passed down through generations. While similar to American Thanksgiving, there are certain customs and rituals that make Canadian Thanksgiving unique.


One of the most common traditions during Canadian Thanksgiving is gathering with loved ones for a festive meal. Families and friends come together to prepare and enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving feast. This often includes roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and an array of seasonal vegetables. Pumpkin pie is a staple dessert, and many households also serve other fall-inspired treats like apple crisp or pecan pie.


Another cherished tradition is expressing gratitude. Before the meal, it is common for each person to share something they are thankful for. This practice of giving thanks helps foster a sense of appreciation and reflection on the blessings in life.


Canadian Thanksgiving is also a time for outdoor activities and enjoying the beauty of the fall season. Many families take advantage of the long weekend to go for nature walks, visit pumpkin patches, or take scenic drives to admire the vibrant colors of the changing leaves.


For those who want to get involved in the community, volunteering during Thanksgiving is another popular tradition. Many organizations host food drives or serve meals to those in need, and individuals may participate to give back and help others during the holiday season.


Additionally, different regions of Canada have their own unique traditions that are specific to their culture or location. For example, in Atlantic Canada, it is common to have a “Jiggs dinner,” which is a boiled dinner consisting of salted beef, cabbage, potatoes, and other vegetables. In the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, there is a tradition called “mummering” where people dress up in disguises and visit their neighbors’ homes, singing and dancing in return for treats.


These traditions not only add to the festive atmosphere but also create a sense of community and togetherness. Canadian Thanksgiving is a time for families and friends to reconnect, celebrate the harvest, and create lasting memories.


Traditional Thanksgiving Meal

The centerpiece of Canadian Thanksgiving is the traditional Thanksgiving meal. This mouthwatering feast brings together family and friends to celebrate the harvest season and enjoy a variety of delicious dishes.


At the heart of the meal is the roasted turkey, which is often stuffed with a flavorful blend of herbs, breadcrumbs, and vegetables. The turkey is cooked until golden brown and tender, creating a centerpiece that is both visually stunning and incredibly delicious.


Alongside the turkey, there are several traditional side dishes that complement the main course. These include cranberry sauce, which adds a tangy and sweet element to the meal; mashed potatoes, which are creamy and buttery; and gravy, which is rich and savory, poured over the turkey and potatoes.


In addition to these staples, the Thanksgiving table is often adorned with an array of seasonal vegetables. Roasted or steamed carrots, green beans, Brussels sprouts, and squash are popular choices, adding vibrant colors and flavors to the meal.


No Thanksgiving feast is complete without stuffing. This delightful mixture of bread, herbs, onions, and celery is either cooked inside the turkey or baked separately. It is fragrant and flavorful, providing a wonderful contrast of textures and tastes.


Lastly, a Thanksgiving meal would not be the same without a selection of delectable desserts. Pumpkin pie is a classic choice, made with a spiced pumpkin filling and a flaky crust. Other popular desserts include apple pie, pecan pie, and cranberry tart.


While these dishes comprise a traditional Thanksgiving meal, it’s important to note that Canadian Thanksgiving is also influenced by the country’s diverse cultures. Many households incorporate their own cultural dishes and flavors into the Thanksgiving spread, adding a unique touch to the celebration.


Whether you’re indulging in the traditional favorites or adding your own personal twist, the Thanksgiving meal is a feast that brings everyone together. It’s a time to savor the flavors, enjoy the company of loved ones, and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.


Celebration and Activities during Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend

Canadian Thanksgiving is not just a one-day celebration—it is a long weekend filled with festivities and activities for people of all ages to enjoy. From parades to outdoor adventures, there are numerous ways to make the most of the holiday weekend.


One of the popular activities during Canadian Thanksgiving is attending fall fairs and harvest festivals. These events showcase local produce, crafts, and livestock, offering a chance to support local vendors and enjoy a fun-filled day out with family and friends. From midway rides to live music performances, there is something for everyone at these vibrant events.


Another beloved tradition is taking a scenic drive to view the spectacular fall foliage. Canada’s vast landscapes come alive with vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow during the autumn months, creating breathtaking scenery. Many people plan road trips or visit national parks to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature and capture memorable photographs.


For those seeking a more adventurous experience, hiking and camping trips are popular choices. The cooler temperatures and stunning landscapes make Thanksgiving weekend the perfect time to explore the outdoors. Whether you’re trekking through forests, scaling mountains, or camping under the stars, it’s a chance to embrace the natural wonders of Canada.


Additionally, Canadian Thanksgiving often coincides with sports events. Football games, both amateur and professional, are a common sight during the holiday weekend. Many people gather with family and friends to cheer on their favorite teams, creating a festive and competitive atmosphere.


In cities across Canada, Thanksgiving parades are a highlight of the weekend. These vibrant spectacles feature colorful floats, marching bands, and various performances, captivating audiences of all ages. The largest and most famous parade is the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, which takes place on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, marking the official start of the holiday season.


Lastly, Canadian Thanksgiving is also a time for relaxation and quality time with loved ones. Many families take advantage of the long weekend to enjoy leisurely activities such as board games, movie marathons, or simply having conversations around the dinner table. It is a chance to reconnect, express gratitude, and create lasting memories.


Whether you’re exploring the outdoors, attending events, or simply enjoying the company of family and friends, Canadian Thanksgiving weekend offers a myriad of opportunities to make the most of the holiday, ensuring a memorable and enjoyable experience for everyone.


Giving Thanks and Gratitude

At the heart of Canadian Thanksgiving lies the concept of giving thanks and expressing gratitude. It is a time when people pause to reflect on the blessings in their lives and show appreciation for the abundance they have.


One common tradition during Canadian Thanksgiving is the practice of going around the table and sharing what each person is thankful for. This simple gesture encourages individuals to acknowledge the positive aspects of their lives, both big and small. It fosters a sense of gratitude and allows everyone to participate in the celebration by expressing their own personal thanks.


Expressing gratitude goes beyond the holiday meal. Many people use this time of year to reach out to loved ones and express their appreciation. Whether it’s sending a heartfelt card or making a phone call, this act of gratitude strengthens relationships and brings people closer together.


Canadian Thanksgiving also presents an opportunity to show gratitude towards the community and those in need. Many individuals and families volunteer at local charities or participate in food drives to help those who may be experiencing hardship. By giving back to others, people can make a positive impact and spread the spirit of gratitude throughout their communities.


Moreover, being thankful is not confined to just one day. Thanksgiving is a reminder for people to practice gratitude every day of the year. Cultivating a habit of gratitude has been linked to improved mental well-being, increased happiness, and stronger relationships. Taking a few moments each day to reflect on what you are grateful for can shift your perspective and bring more positivity into your life.


Throughout Canadian history, indigenous communities have also celebrated the fall harvest and practiced gratitude in their own unique ways. These traditions often involve ceremonies, dances, and feasts, all centered around the connection between the land and its people. Indigenous practices remind us of the importance of valuing and respecting the earth, as well as expressing gratitude for the resources it provides.


By embracing the spirit of giving thanks and gratitude, Canadian Thanksgiving becomes more than just a holiday—it becomes a meaningful and transformative experience. It reminds us to appreciate the blessings in our lives, to cherish our loved ones, and to give back to our communities. It is a time to come together and celebrate the abundance that surrounds us, fostering a sense of unity and gratitude that extends far beyond the holiday season.



Canadian Thanksgiving is a cherished holiday that brings people together to celebrate the harvest season, express gratitude, and create lasting memories. With its unique history, traditions, and emphasis on giving thanks, Canadian Thanksgiving holds a special place in the hearts of Canadians.


Throughout the years, Canadian Thanksgiving has evolved to reflect the cultural diversity and values of the country. From the traditional Thanksgiving meal with roasted turkey and all the fixings to the various activities and celebrations that take place during the long weekend, the holiday offers something for everyone.


Canadian Thanksgiving is not just about the food and festivities; it is a time for reflection and appreciation. It serves as a reminder to pause and acknowledge the blessings in our lives, whether they are big or small. By expressing gratitude, we cultivate a positive mindset and a deeper sense of connection with ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.


As the autumn leaves change colors and the air grows crisp, Canadian Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to embrace the beauty of nature and the changing seasons. It is a time for outdoor adventures, scenic drives, and enjoying the vibrant landscapes that Canada has to offer.


Above all, Canadian Thanksgiving is a time to come together as families and friends, to strengthen bonds, and to create cherished memories. It is a time to laugh, share stories, and celebrate the abundance in our lives.


So, as we gather around the table, let us remember the rich history and traditions of Canadian Thanksgiving. Let us express gratitude for the privileges and opportunities we have been given, while also extending a helping hand to those in need.


As the aroma of the feast fills the air and laughter echoes through our homes, let us embrace the spirit of thankfulness and carry it with us throughout the year. Happy Thanksgiving!