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US Thanksgiving vs. Canadian Thanksgiving — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Published on January 4, 2024
US Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, commemorating Pilgrims and Native Americans' feast, while Canadian Thanksgiving is on the second Monday of October, marking a bountiful harvest.
US Thanksgiving vs. Canadian Thanksgiving — What's the Difference?

Difference Between US Thanksgiving and Canadian Thanksgiving


Key Differences

US Thanksgiving and Canadian Thanksgiving, while similar in their emphasis on gratitude and feasting, have distinct origins and significances. US Thanksgiving traces its roots to the 1621 feast shared between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag at Plymouth. This event marked the Pilgrims' survival and their harmonious relationship with the native people. In contrast, Canadian Thanksgiving, though having varied historical references, is primarily linked to the 1578 voyage of explorer Martin Frobisher, who gave thanks for his safe journey in the challenging Arctic.
Celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, US Thanksgiving has become a significant cultural event, often seen as the kickoff to the holiday season. Family gatherings, feasts, and the famous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade are hallmarks of this holiday. On the other hand, Canadian Thanksgiving, observed on the second Monday of October, coincides with the end of the harvest season. This timing allows Canadians to express their gratitude for the year's bounty and enjoy seasonal foods.
While both holidays emphasize togetherness and gratitude, their cultural impacts differ. US Thanksgiving is surrounded by a longer holiday weekend, often making it one of the busiest travel times, as people gather with family and friends. Canadian Thanksgiving, while important, is typically a quieter affair and is less commercialized compared to its American counterpart.
In essence, both US Thanksgiving and Canadian Thanksgiving provide an opportunity for reflection, gratitude, and family connections. Yet, their historical backgrounds, dates, and cultural significance set them apart, offering unique flavors to each celebration.

Comparison Chart

Date of Celebration

Fourth Thursday of November
Second Monday of October

Historical Origin

Commemorates the 1621 feast between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag at Plymouth.
Celebrates Martin Frobisher's 1578 voyage and thanks for a bountiful harvest.

Typical Foods

Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie.
Turkey, stuffing, seasonal harvest vegetables, pumpkin pie.

Cultural Significance

Major holiday; marks the beginning of the holiday season.
Important but less commercialized; marks the end of the harvest season.

Associated Activities

Macy's Parade, football games, Black Friday shopping the following day.
Family gatherings and meals; less emphasis on parades or shopping.

Compare with Definitions

US Thanksgiving

A major US celebration marked by feasts, parades, and family gatherings.
Many families travel long distances to be together for US Thanksgiving.

Canadian Thanksgiving

A less commercialized but deeply cherished Canadian tradition.
Unlike the US, Canadian Thanksgiving has less emphasis on shopping and parades.

US Thanksgiving

An American holiday commemorating the 1621 feast between Pilgrims and Native Americans.
US Thanksgiving is deeply rooted in the history of the early settlers.

Canadian Thanksgiving

Commemorated on the second Monday of October with family feasts.
Many Canadians enjoy a long weekend during Canadian Thanksgiving.

US Thanksgiving

An American tradition with iconic dishes like turkey and pumpkin pie.
Turkey is almost synonymous with US Thanksgiving dinners.

Canadian Thanksgiving

A holiday marked by turkey dinners and seasonal harvest dishes.
Squash and other harvest vegetables are common during Canadian Thanksgiving meals.

US Thanksgiving

The holiday that unofficially ushers in the winter holiday season in the US.
After US Thanksgiving, most people start decorating for Christmas.

Canadian Thanksgiving

A reflection on blessings, both historical and current.
Canadian Thanksgiving has roots in historical voyages and gratitude for safe journeys.

US Thanksgiving

A reflection of gratitude celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.
US Thanksgiving offers a moment to express thanks for the year's blessings.

Canadian Thanksgiving

A Canadian holiday celebrating gratitude at the close of the harvest season.
Canadian Thanksgiving gives thanks for the bountiful harvest and the year's fortunes.

Common Curiosities

Are the foods eaten on US Thanksgiving and Canadian Thanksgiving similar?

Yes, both feature dishes like turkey and pumpkin pie, but Canadian meals might include more harvest-specific items.

Which is older, US Thanksgiving or Canadian Thanksgiving?

The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving can be traced back to 1578, while US Thanksgiving commemorates the 1621 event.

Why is US Thanksgiving celebrated in November?

US Thanksgiving marks the 1621 feast between the Pilgrims and Native Americans and is traditionally celebrated in late November.

Can I find Thanksgiving celebrations outside of the US and Canada?

While other countries might have harvest festivals, the specific celebrations of US and Canadian Thanksgiving are unique to their nations.

How significant is US Thanksgiving in American culture?

It's a major holiday, with significant travel, meals, parades, and marking the beginning of the holiday season.

Why is Canadian Thanksgiving in October?

Canadian Thanksgiving aligns with the end of the harvest season and has historical significance related to early voyages.

Is Canadian Thanksgiving a public holiday?

Yes, Canadian Thanksgiving is a public holiday, and many Canadians get a day off.

Was US Thanksgiving always on the fourth Thursday of November?

No, it was standardized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941.

Is the Macy's Parade related to Canadian Thanksgiving?

No, the Macy's Parade is a hallmark of US Thanksgiving.

Is Black Friday associated with Canadian Thanksgiving like it is with US Thanksgiving?

No, Black Friday is more associated with US Thanksgiving, while Canadian Thanksgiving lacks such shopping traditions.

Are the themes of gratitude similar in both Thanksgivings?

Yes, both US and Canadian Thanksgivings emphasize gratitude, family, and reflection.

Are there any traditional games or sports associated with these holidays?

Football is a significant part of US Thanksgiving, while Canadian Thanksgiving doesn't have a specific sport tied to it.

How long is the typical Thanksgiving holiday weekend in both countries?

In the US, it's typically a four-day weekend, while in Canada, it's a three-day weekend.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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