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Canadian Thanksgiving Day 2018: All you need to know about Jour de l’action de grâce

Thanksgiving is a time for friends and families to get together, eat plenty of food and gather round the TV to watch the football.

But by the time Americans do just that on the fourth Thursday of November, Canadians will have already spent seven weeks recovering from their own Thanksgiving, which happens on the second Monday of October.

Here is all you need to know including what and when Canadian Thanksgiving is, how it is celebrated and how different it is from American Thanksgiving.

Canadian Thanksgiving is a holiday that's always celebrated on the second Monday of October

Canadian Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s always celebrated on the second Monday of October

When is Canadian Thanksgiving?

Canadian Thanksgiving Day falls on the second Monday of October. Canadian Thanksgiving 2018 will be on Monday, October 8.

Canadian Thanksgiving history

Canadian Thanksgiving is an annual Canadian holiday that falls on the second Monday in October and is a celebration of the good harvests of the past year.

The very first Canadian Thanksgiving is thought to have happened in 1578 after the explorer Martin Frobisher’s third expedition to Canada. 

After a particularly treacherous journey that saw Frobisher lose one of his ships, the sailor decided to have a feast to celebrate his safe passage after landing in Nunavut.

The holiday became codified in the Canadian calendar in the 19th century, when Canadian Protestants petitioned for an official Thanksgiving day in 1859 to thank God for the good harvests. 

It became a national holiday that year but only became Thanksgiving officially on the second Monday of October in 1957.

Another suggestion has been that Canadian Thanksgiving came about because the country was thankful, as historian Peter A. Stevens says, because they ‘spared the bloodshed’ of the US Civil War.

Canadian Thanksgiving vs US Thanksgiving

There are many differences between Canadian and US Thanksgiving. 

As well the Canadian Thanksgiving first being held decades before American Thanksgiving, Canadians also celebrate it nearly eight weeks before their US counterparts.

While Canadian Thanksgiving is always held on the second Monday of October, US Thanksgiving is held on the fourth Thursday of November.

This means that the amount of days off each country’s residents get is different. While in Canada, the second Monday is automatically a day off work for most people, Americans get the Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving.

In some parts of Canada, like Quebec for example, the holiday is not as big a deal. There, it is called Action de Grace, and the celebrations are treated with much less fanfare than in other parts of Canada or the US.

In Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia celebrating Thanksgiving is optional.

Thanksgiving in Canada traditionally does not bring with it the shopping craze that the US version inspires in the form of Black Friday, and more recently Cyber Monday. However, over time Black Friday has picked up across the border.

However, there are also many similarities between the two countries’ celebrations. Both feast on turkey, potatoes and stuffing, and watch their respective versions of football on Thanksgiving.


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