Thanksgiving Day falls on the second Monday in October. It has been a holiday since 1879 when it was declared a holiday by the Canadian parliament.
|Year||Date||Day||Holiday||Provinces and Territories|
|2019||14 Oct||Mon||Thanksgiving Day||National except NB, NL,|
NS & PEI
|2020||12 Oct||Mon||Thanksgiving Day||National except NB, NL,|
NS & PEI
Thanksgiving Day has been celebrated since 1879. While the holiday is a statutory holiday in most provinces and territories in Canada, it is only an optional holiday in the provinces on the Atlantic seaboard including Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.
The holiday offers a three-day weekend to Canada’s population, and it is usually celebrated with a large, traditional meal. The holiday is usually celebrated with family members or friends, but it is not as widely celebrated as its US counterpart.
Because of its status as a statutory holiday in most provinces, government buildings and banks are closed and many services and businesses also shut down for the long weekend. The October date is one month earlier than the American tradition because the northern location of many of Canada’s provinces requires an earlier harvest.
In 1879, the Canadian parliament stated that Thanksgiving should be a national holiday. Parliament members declared this holiday should be celebrated by the citizens of Canada as a “day of general thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.”
Canada had strong attachments to Great Britain until the end of the 19th century, and it kept European traditions such as the harvest festivals celebrated by European peasants. It also draws from the observance of the time when the crew of Frobisher’s voyage, when searching for the Northwest Passage, gave thanks for their safe return. Finally, it draws from the American tradition of celebrating the Pilgrim’s harvest in Massachusetts.
To celebrate Thanksgiving, Canadians often gather together with their families or friends over the long weekend and celebrate with a large traditional meal. The dinner often includes roasting a whole turkey as well as traditional sides such as stuffing, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts or carrots. Pumpkin pie is one of Canada’s favourite Thanksgiving traditions, but the meal is also often finished with pecan pie, apple pie or sweet potato pie.
This meal may be eaten at any point during the weekend, and it is not necessarily strictly had on Thanksgiving Monday itself. Alongside a traditional meal, football is another Thanksgiving tradition, and the Canadian Football League hosts its annual Thanksgiving Day Classic over the weekend.
Despite sharing a name and a basic tradition with the American holiday, Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated differently. While the American tradition has become overwhelmed with the post-holiday shopping extravaganza known as Black Friday, Canada does not participate in this tradition. Instead, Canada’s biggest shopping day is in line with the British tradition of Boxing Day which falls on December 26th.
The Canadian tradition differs not only in the provinces that have not adopted it as a statutory holiday but also in Montreal. As with many other holidays and traditions, Montreal participates in Canadian Thanksgiving different than the rest of the country. Called action de grace in Quebec, the English-speaking population in the province is more likely to carry on with the holiday than the French Canadians.