Highlighted Dates

Canadian Thanksgiving

Date Pattern: Second Monday in October

The History and

Symbols of Canadian Thanksgiving

As the autumn season rolls around each year, Canadians gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving. This beloved holiday is a time for family, gratitude, and of course, a feast.

But have you ever wondered about the origins and symbols of Canadian Thanksgiving? In this article, we will delve into the history of Canadian Thanksgiving and explore the various symbols that are associated with this time-honored tradition.to Canadian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in Canada has a deep-rooted history that dates back hundreds of years.

It is a time when people come together to express appreciation for a bountiful harvest and to give thanks for the blessings in their lives. This holiday is not only significant in symbolizing gratitude, but it also holds historical and cultural importance for Canadians.

History of Canadian Thanksgiving

Before the arrival of European settlers, Native American peoples held festivals and ceremonies to celebrate the harvest and give thanks for a successful season of growth. These festivals were deeply rooted in their connection to the land and nature.

Native people would come together, share food, and express gratitude for the abundance provided by the earth. These early celebrations laid the foundation for what would later become Canadian Thanksgiving.

European settlers also had their own traditions of giving thanks for a successful harvest. When European settlers arrived in North America, they brought with them their own customs and traditions.

Harvest festivals and ceremonies were a common practice in Europe, and settlers continued this tradition in their new home. However, Canadian Thanksgiving as we know it today has evolved from a mix of Native American and European customs.

Symbols of Canadian Thanksgiving

Symbols play a significant role in Canadian Thanksgiving, as they evoke the spirit and essence of the holiday. One of the most recognizable symbols of Thanksgiving is the cornucopia, also known as the “horn of plenty.” This symbolizes abundance and is often depicted overflowing with an assortment of fruits and vegetables.

The cornucopia serves as a reminder of the plentiful harvest and the blessings that come with it. Another symbol closely associated with Canadian Thanksgiving is the harvest imagery.

Ears of corn, pumpkins, and other fruits and vegetables are often used to decorate homes and tables during this festive season. These symbols represent the importance of agriculture in Canadian history and the abundance of food that is available during the harvest.

Of course, no Thanksgiving celebration would be complete without the iconic turkey. This bird has become synonymous with the holiday and is traditionally served as the main course during Thanksgiving dinner.

The turkey symbolizes the feast and the coming together of loved ones to share a meal as an expression of gratitude.


In conclusion, Canadian Thanksgiving has a rich history and is filled with meaningful symbols that embody the spirit of gratitude and abundance. The celebration of this holiday has evolved from Native American ceremonies and European traditions, creating a unique blend of customs.

The symbols associated with Canadian Thanksgiving, such as the cornucopia, harvest imagery, and the turkey, serve as reminders of the blessings in our lives and the importance of coming together to express gratitude. By understanding the history and symbols of Canadian Thanksgiving, we can truly appreciate the significance of this beloved holiday.

So, as you gather around the table this year, take a moment to reflect on the origins of this tradition and the symbols that make it special.

Canadian Thanksgiving as a Public Holiday

Observance and closures

Canadian Thanksgiving is not only a time for celebration and gratitude, but it is also recognized as a statutory holiday. This means that it is a public holiday and is observed throughout the country.

As a statutory holiday, Canadians are entitled to take the day off work and enjoy a day of rest and relaxation with their loved ones. On Thanksgiving Monday, many businesses and government offices are closed, allowing employees to spend time with their families and participate in holiday festivities.

It is a time when Canadians can truly unwind and enjoy the company of their loved ones. Schools are also closed during this time, giving families the opportunity to spend quality time together.

Varying rules and regulations in different provinces

While Thanksgiving is a public holiday, the rules and regulations surrounding its observance may vary from province to province. For example, in Nova Scotia, Thanksgiving Monday is designated retail closing day, meaning that retail stores are closed on this day.

This allows employees in the retail sector to have a much-needed day of rest and spend time with their families. Similarly, in New Brunswick, Thanksgiving Monday is a day of rest.

This means that most businesses, including retail stores, are closed to give employees the opportunity to enjoy the holiday. It is a time when families can come together, relax, and engage in activities that celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving.

How to Celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving

Family gatherings and special meals

Canadian Thanksgiving is synonymous with family gatherings and special meals. It is a time when loved ones come together to share a meal and express gratitude for the blessings in their lives.

The centerpiece of the Thanksgiving feast is often a roast turkey, accompanied by an array of delicious side dishes and desserts. Families and friends gather around the table, sharing stories, laughter, and good food.

The aroma of a perfectly roasted turkey fills the air, creating an atmosphere of warmth and togetherness. It is a time to reconnect with loved ones, create lasting memories, and strengthen the bonds of family.

Activities and traditions during the holiday weekend

In addition to enjoying a special meal, Canadian Thanksgiving also offers a long weekend for families to engage in various activities and traditions. With the beautiful autumn weather, many Canadians take advantage of the holiday to enjoy outdoor activities.

They may go for a hike, take a scenic drive to enjoy the fall foliage, or even go apple picking. Sports enthusiasts often gather around the television to watch football matches that are traditionally held on Thanksgiving Day.

Cheering for favorite teams and enjoying the excitement of the game has become a beloved tradition for many Canadian families. It is a time to come together, immerse in the spirit of competition, and create shared experiences.

Another popular way to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving is by taking a short vacation. Families may choose to spend the long weekend at a cottage, enjoying the tranquility of nature and taking part in outdoor activities such as fishing, kayaking, or simply enjoying a bonfire under the starlit sky.

It is a time to relax, rejuvenate, and take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.


Canadian Thanksgiving is not only a time for gratitude and feasting, but it is also a public holiday that allows families to come together, observe traditions, and create cherished memories. With closures in various provinces and opportunities for rest and relaxation, Canadians can fully embrace the spirit of Thanksgiving and reflect on the blessings in their lives.

Whether it’s enjoying a special meal, engaging in outdoor activities, or simply spending quality time with loved ones, Canadian Thanksgiving is a time for connection, celebration, and appreciation. Differences Between U.S. and Canadian Thanksgiving

Black Friday vs.

Boxing Day

One of the biggest differences between U.S. and Canadian Thanksgiving lies in the shopping frenzy that follows the holiday. In the United States, the day after Thanksgiving is famously known as Black Friday.

It has become a retail sales event of epic proportions, with doorbuster deals, early-morning store openings, and hordes of shoppers vying for the best discounts. On the other hand, Canada has its own version of this shopping extravaganza known as Boxing Day.

Taking place on December 26th, Boxing Day is a day where retailers offer significant discounts on a wide range of products. While it is not directly associated with Thanksgiving, it is often considered a part of the holiday season and is a day many Canadians look forward to for post-Christmas shopping.

Parades, football, and traditions

Another notable difference between U.S. and Canadian Thanksgiving lies in the traditions and events that take place during the holiday. In the United States, Thanksgiving parades are a major highlight, culminating in the renowned Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

These parades feature elaborate floats, marching bands, and performances that captivate millions of spectators. In Canada, parades are not as commonly associated with Thanksgiving.

However, something that does share similarities between both countries is the tradition of football. In the United States, Thanksgiving is synonymous with football, with nationally televised games taking place throughout the day.

Similarly, in Canada, Thanksgiving is an important day for football fans, with the Canadian Football League often hosting games that draw in enthusiastic supporters.

Timing differences and reasons for October celebration

While both countries celebrate Thanksgiving, the timing of the holiday differs. In the United States, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.

This timing is linked to the historical significance of the Pilgrims’ first harvest feast in the autumn of 1621 and the subsequent tradition of giving thanks for that abundance. In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October.

The earlier timing of Canadian Thanksgiving can be attributed to geographical factors and the difference in climate. Canadas harvest season occurs earlier than that of the United States due to its northern location.

By celebrating in October, Canadians are able to express gratitude for a bountiful harvest before the onset of colder weather. Another reason for the October celebration is that Canadian Thanksgiving has roots in European traditions.

European settlers brought their own customs and harvest festivals with them, which were already established as fall celebrations. As such, the timing of Canadian Thanksgiving aligns more closely with these traditional harvest festivals that predate its establishment as a statutory holiday.


While both the United States and Canada celebrate Thanksgiving, there are notable differences that set their traditions apart. From the shopping frenzy of Black Friday and Boxing Day to the prominence of parades and football in the United States, each country adds its own unique flavor to the holiday.

The timing of the celebrations also varies, with Canada’s earlier October date accounting for geographical and historical factors. Despite these differences, both nations share the common thread of expressing gratitude for the blessings in their lives and coming together with loved ones during this special time of year.

In conclusion, exploring the history, symbols, celebration, and distinctions between Canadian and American Thanksgiving highlights the richness and diversity of these traditions. From the Native American and European influences on Canadian Thanksgiving to the significance of symbols like the cornucopia and the turkey, these holidays hold deep cultural and historical meaning.

The observance of Canadian Thanksgiving as a public holiday allows for cherished time with loved ones, while the differences in post-holiday shopping and traditions add unique elements to each country’s celebration. Ultimately, these holidays serve as reminders to express gratitude and come together with family and friends.

So, whether you’re enjoying a bountiful feast or partaking in beloved traditions, Canadian Thanksgiving offers the opportunity to appreciate the blessings in our lives and create lasting memories.

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