What is the difference between Canadian and American Thanksgiving?

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Thanksgiving in Canada will be celebrated on Monday, October 14th this year. Here in La Paz, Canadian Thanksgiving usually comes and goes without notice. Not until its American equivalent is celebrated in November do people start asking about the Canadian tradition.  Do we celebrate on the same day?  Do we celebrate the same thing?  Is it the same thing?

Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October to coincide with harvest. A 3-day weekend, Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for food, friends, families and everything good in our lives.   Canadians celebrate with a turkey meal on the Monday and a day off work.

Thanksgiving Day in Canada has been a holiday on the second Monday of October since 1957.

In the US, the celebration runs through a four-day weekend, which is from Thursday to Sunday. It begins on the 4th Thursday of November. It is also celebrated with a big meal among friends and family, but Americans give thanks to the Pilgrims who arrived in Massachusetts on the Mayflower in 1620.

Meals are almost similar in both countries. Main dishes include baked or roasted turkey and vegetables and crops in season.  Pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes with gravy are a must.

A major difference between the two besides the date and why we celebrate the day? Thanksgiving in the US has become a holiday just as important as Christmas where as in Canada; its importance doesn’t even come close.

Along with family gatherings and festive banquets, Thanksgiving in the US is popularly associated with football games. Parades are also a must, and grand, held as a nationwide event.

Post-thanksgiving shopping sprees have also become part of all of the celebration. In America, they call it ‘Black Friday’ to connote turning red numbers (losses) into black ones (profit).  For many, it is the day that kicks off the Christmas shopping season.

Whether Thanksgiving is to celebrate a healthy harvest or to give thanks to the Pilgrims, it is a holiday that brings family and friends together and to count our blessings while sharing a meal with loved ones.  There are precious few days in a year when we can simply spend time with those we love.

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