Quinte, On. real estate agent: Why Do Americans and Canadians Celebrate Thanksgiving on Different Days?

Why Do Americans and Canadians Celebrate Thanksgiving on Different Days?

Since 1957, Thanksgiving in Canada (Jour de l'Action de grâce) has been celebrated on the second Monday in October (the same day Americans celebrate Columbus Day). Canada has always celebrated Thanksgiving earlier, but in 1957 the Canadian Parliament declared that the second Monday in October would be recognized as;

“A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.’’

Why do the two countries celebrate on different days? There's a couple of reasons really.

You might already have guessed the first reason, it makes logical sense. Canada (for the most part) is further north, and therefore has a shorter growing season, and the harvest has to come in quite a bit earlier than it does in most of the U.S., so therefore it makes sense to celebrate the harvest earlier as well. Much of Canada is already experiencing winter weather right now, and a harvest festival wouldn't be a very cheery occasion at the moment.

The second reason is also pretty obvious (now that I'm going to mention it). Canadian Thanksgiving and American Thanksgiving are not celebrations of the same thing. In general they are pretty similar in that they are both harvest festivals with their origins in Europe, however, specifically, American Thanksgiving, as well as giving thanks for the bountiful harvest is also a commemoration of the  1621 celebration at the Plymouth Plantation. This was a feast shared by the pilgrims and native Americans. Canadians do not commemorate this event.

The first Thanksgiving in Canada occured in 1578 when the explorer Martin Frobisher, after successfully arriving in Baffin Island after a particularly gruelling crossing in search of the elusive North West Passage, held a ceremony in what is now known as Frobisher Bay. He and his crew celebrated communion and gave thanks to God for their safe landing (and I'm certain they prayed very hard to be returned safely to the comforts of Europe). In later years settlers came to this country and brought with them their traditions from their home countries. A harvest festival is a universal custom, and I'm sure that just about every culture celebrates this event. I'm also sure a lot of our traditions have been pinched from American traditions as well.

In any event, everybody on this continent has many reasons to be thankful all year round, so setting one day aside to express this thanks isn't really asking a lot.

Happy Thanksgiving 2011.



Comment balloon 17 commentsMalcolm Johnston • November 24 2011 11:49AM


Thanks, Malcolm for sharing this information today.  Wishing You and Your Family a Happy Thanksgiving too!

Posted by Jerry Newman, Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation (Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com) over 8 years ago

Malcom ... I really never knew and I'm glad you shared that with us!  Happy Holidays ... in what ever shape they take ... to you and your family!

Posted by Lisa Wetzel, CDPE, SFR carsonvalleyland.com (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates) over 8 years ago

Thanks very much Jerry, I hope you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving as well.

Thank you Lisa, enjoy your Thanksgiving too.

Posted by Malcolm Johnston, Trenton Real Estate (Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario) over 8 years ago

We all work so hard throughout the year, and this is exactly why we do it.

To be able to spend leisure time with our family and friends.

So please enjoy every minute of your holiday, thoroughly!

Posted by Ralph Gorgoglione, Hawaii and California Real Estate (310) 497-9407 (Maui Life Homes / Metro Life Homes) over 8 years ago

Thank you Ralph, it's not a holiday here, but I'm going to enjoy today anyway, even if it kills me. Have a great Thanksgiving.

Posted by Malcolm Johnston, Trenton Real Estate (Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario) over 8 years ago

Great post...says it all about both the tiny differences and also the major similarity...it's about gratitude.

Posted by Li Read, Caring expertise...knowledge for you! (Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring)) over 8 years ago

Thanks, Li, it is indeed about gratitude.

Posted by Malcolm Johnston, Trenton Real Estate (Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario) over 8 years ago

Malcolm, I knew the first, but didn't know the second Canadian difference.  What we learn on AR ;-)

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 8 years ago



I enjoyed the history lesson. I have wondered about the answer but never looked it up. Thanks,



Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) over 8 years ago

Malcolm - Oh dear, poor Big Bird...  I often wondered why the dates were different.  It does make perfect sense when you think about it.  Thanks for the clarification.  We'll just have to look forward to December 25th for our next turkey!

Posted by Sally Weatherley, Vancouver Home Staging, Home Stager Vancouver, B.C (EXIT STAGE RIGHT) over 8 years ago

Hope you had a great (American) Thanksgiving and that your (American) Black Friday won't get too stressful and mess up the rest of your weekend!

Happy Black Friday!

Posted by Not a real person over 8 years ago

Malcolm, thanks for the lesson it was well done ;). I prefer our date for Thanksgiving because it means more time between large turkey dinners! LOL.

Posted by Janice Ankrett, Staging Professional (Janice Ankrett Home Staging) over 8 years ago

Thanks Chris, I do learn quite a bit from other blogs.

You're welcome Brian, I never knew about the first Thanksgiving on Frobisher Bay either until I looked it up.

Haha Sally, poor Big Bird indeed.  I guess we have to wait another month for Turkey.

Thank you Russel, I'm not a black Friday type of guy anyway, too much stress.

Janice, I think our Thanksgiving is on a better date too, far enough removed from Christmas.

Posted by Malcolm Johnston, Trenton Real Estate (Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario) over 8 years ago

You are a great historian Malcolm and I love reading your blogs.  We were just talking about this around our American Thanksgiving table less than 40 miles from where it first happened on the Plymouth Plantation.

Posted by Larry Lawfer, "I listen for a living." It's all about you. (YourStories Realty Group powered by Castles Unlimited®) over 8 years ago

Happy American Thanksgiving Malcoom... A little late for wishing you a Canadian Thanksgiving wish.. I didn't know we celebrated on different days.. thanks for the info :)

Posted by Sheila Newton Team Anderson & Greenville SC, Selling the Upstate since 1989 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - C. Dan Joyner) over 8 years ago

Thanks for sharing the info. regarding Canada's Thanksgiving Malcolm. I had wondered why and I appreciate you filling us in. 

Posted by Ginger Foust, Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging (Certified Staging Professional) over 8 years ago

Malcolm,  I never knew any of this.  I'm rather embarrassed by that statement but "thankful" to have learned something new.    Thank you for sharing. 

Posted by Cathy McAlister, Sacramento DRE#00648507 (Cathy Ashley McAlister, GRI CDPE - Broker / Sacramento ) over 8 years ago