Thanksgiving in Canada is a cherished holiday with deep historical and cultural significance. Like its American counterpart, Canadian Thanksgiving is a time to express gratitude and appreciation for the bountiful harvest and blessings received throughout the year. However, Canadian Thanksgiving has unique origins and customs that set it apart. Let's delve into everything you need to know about Thanksgiving in the Great White North, highlighting the differences between Canadian and American celebrations. We’ll explore traditional customs, popular Thanksgiving foods, and insights on celebrating this holiday as a newcomer to Canada.
The History of Thanksgiving in Canada
The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving can be traced back to the early European settlers who arrived in Canada during the 16th century. These settlers, primarily from England and France, brought the tradition of giving thanks for a successful harvest. The first official Canadian Thanksgiving can be credited to Martin Frobisher, an English explorer who held a Thanksgiving celebration in 1578 to give thanks for the safe arrival of his expedition in present-day Nunavut.
Over the years, Canadian Thanksgiving became an annual tradition, with different provinces and territories adopting their own dates to celebrate. It wasn't until 1957 that the second Monday in October was officially designated as Thanksgiving Day throughout Canada. Today, Thanksgiving in Canada is a public holiday and is celebrated with great enthusiasm across the country.
Indigenous households are reclaiming the holiday and practicing Indigenous gratitude instead of the holiday now known as Thanksgiving. Giving thanks and celebrating the harvest along with the season change is also a part of Indigenous culture in this land of maple leaves.
Differences Between Canadian and American Thanksgiving
Once you live in Canada, you’ll notice that while Canadian and American Thanksgiving celebrations share some similarities, notable differences set them apart.
The Dates Are Different
As mentioned above, the most obvious difference is the celebration date. While American Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, Canadian Thanksgiving is observed on the second Monday in October. This is because Canadian Thanksgiving is linked to the earlier harvest season in Canada, which occurs before winter.
Another difference lies in the historical origins of the two holidays. American Thanksgiving can be traced back to the Pilgrims' arrival in Plymouth Colony in 1620 and their subsequent feast with the Indigenous Americans. In contrast, Canadian Thanksgiving, as we now know it, has its roots in European traditions of giving thanks for a successful harvest.
That said, it is important to recognize that the First Nations people in Canada have a history of celebrating the fall harvest - predating the arrival of settlers from Europe.
Canadians Enjoy a More Laid-Back Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is huge for the neighbors north of the border - think parades, extravagant feasts, and football. Canadian Thanksgiving is a lot more relaxed. Canucks tuck into a dinner and The Canadian Football League’s Thanksgiving Day Classic in Montreal over the holiday weekend, there’s Black Friday to obsess about the next day.
Celebrating Thanksgiving in Canada - Traditions and Activities
Canadian Thanksgiving is marked by a variety of traditional customs and rituals that have been passed down through generations. One such custom is the act of expressing gratitude. Many Canadians take the time to reflect on the things they are thankful for and share their appreciation with loved ones. This can be done through spoken words, handwritten notes, or spending quality time together.
Another important ritual is the Thanksgiving dinner. Families and friends gather around a beautifully set table to enjoy a feast of traditional Thanksgiving foods. Roast turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie are just a few of the dishes commonly served during this celebratory meal. Sharing food and breaking bread together symbolizes unity and a sense of community.
Additionally, many Canadians participate in charitable activities during Thanksgiving. This can include volunteering at food banks, donating to local charities, or organizing community events to help those in need. Giving back to the community is a core aspect of Canadian Thanksgiving, embodying the spirit of gratitude and compassion. Once you live in Canada, yu’ll be able to partake in initiatives like this.
Popular Thanksgiving Foods in Canada
Thanksgiving dinner in Canada is incomplete without the presence of certain beloved and traditional dishes. Here are the dishes Canucks prepare for this holiday.
- Roast turkey and stuffing made with a mixture of bread, herbs, and vegetables
- Mashed potatoes
- Glazed carrots
- Green bean casserole
- Cranberry sauce
- Sweet potato casserole, topped with marshmallows and a sprinkle of cinnamon
- Pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream
- Apple pie
- Pecan pie
- Butter tarts
Spending Thanksgiving in Canada as a Newcomer
Once you move to Canada, your first Thanksgiving in Canada will be an ideal opportunity to embrace your new home and forge connections within the beautiful land of maple leaves. Because this nation celebrates diversity, you do not have to relinquish your identity once you get here. Mixing up your cultural traditions with some Canadian elements can create a beautiful fusion of customs and foster a sense of belonging. It can also be a fantastic way to celebrate diversity and promote intercultural understanding.
Consider hosting your own little Thanksgiving gathering, and include traditional dishes from your home country alongside Canadian Thanksgiving classics. You can also share stories and customs from different cultures with your new Canuck friends during your Thanksgiving dinner and use this event to learn about Canadian tales and customs.
If you're very new in Canada, consider joining local immigrant support groups or community centers. They can provide you with opportunities to connect with others who share similar experiences. These organizations often host Thanksgiving events tailored for newcomers, where individuals can come together, share their stories, and create new friendships. Find newcomer groups in Canada to join.
Pathways to a Lifetime of Giving Thanks in Canada
Since Canada is not only the ultimate North American wonderland but also a land of milk and honey for anyone looking for opportunities, it is one of the premium immigration destinations in the world. With over 80 immigration programs and visas available to foreign nationals, let's explore some of the most popular options that will make it possible for you to immigrate to Canada.
Canada's Express Entry System is its most popular immigration pathway to Canadian Permanent Residency for skilled workers. Why? Because processing happens within just six months. This point-based system checks your eligibility according to your education, work experience, language proficiency, and age.
There are three Express Entry programs to choose from:
- The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) is for skilled workers with a degree or equivalent from a recognized tertiary institution
- The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) is for skilled tradespeople with a recognized diploma or specific training
- The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is for skilled workers who have already been living and working in Canada for a year on a Canadian study permit, Canadian work permit, or Working Holiday Visa
Provincial Nominee Program
Have your eye on a particular Canadian province or territory? Then you're in luck. With the establishment of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), the Government of Canada has allowed 11 of Canada's provinces and territories to nominate skilled workers who can plug the gap in the country's labor force. Each participating province and territory has specific criteria based on the skills in demand.
Atlantic Immigration Program
Canada has the longest coastline in the world. It measures a total of 243,042 km and includes the mainland coast and the coasts of offshore islands. So if you can't live without being close to the sea or want your new chapter to be a seaside one, you could move to one of the country's Atlantic provinces, namely:
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
Your ideal pathway to Canadian permanent residency would be the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP). The federal immigration program assists Canadian employers in the region with the recruitment of skilled foreign workers and international graduates in a bid to stabilize its labor force. Your occupation could make you eligible for two options within this program. You could apply to one of the three AIP programs:
- The Atlantic International Graduate Program;
- Atlantic High-Skilled Program; or
- Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program.
Start Your Journey to Canada With Gratitude
They say gratitude is the open door to abundance. And in every one of our seasons, we have something to be thankful for. As you prepare for your new season as a newcomer to Canada, give thanks for a chance to harvest the opportunities the Great White North has to offer you and your loved ones - from a safer environment to thrive into a treasure chest of job vacancies waiting just for you.
To help you get ready to spend a lifetime of Thanksgivings in Canada, we're giving you the chance to take our 30-minute Online Immigration Interview for just $9.99! And as a special Thanksgiving treat, you'll also get 72% Off your next Canadian immigration step.
Which Canadian Provinces and Territories Are Part of Canada's PNP
The participating PNP provinces and territories are:
- Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP)
- British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP)
- Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP)
- New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program (NW PNP)
- Newfoundland & Labrador Provincial Nominee Program (NL PNP)
- Northwest Territories Nominee Program (NTNP)
- Nova Scotia Provincial Nominee Program (NS PNP)
- Ontario Provincial Nominee Program (OINP)
- Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program (PEI PNP)
- Saskatchewan Provincial Nominee Program (SINP)
- Yukon Nominee Program (YNP)
How do I Check How Many Points I Have For Express Entry to Canada?
You can use our CRS score calculator to get an estimate of what your CRS score will look like.