It's that time of year again in Canada: time to get together with family and friends, sit around the table, and eat way too much food. That's right, it's Thanksgiving. In Canada, it's the holiday that helps put the brakes on Halloween for the first half of October. It's also not fully understood by everyone. There are plenty of Canadian Thanksgiving facts that even Canadians aren't aware of.
It's not entirely their fault. Even during Canadian Thanksgiving, the airwaves are filled with Thanksgiving specials focused on the American version of the holiday, from Charlie Brown to The Simpsons. So it's not entirely strange that when Canadians think of Thanksgiving, they picture pilgrims, Native Americans, and a big dinner near Plymouth Rock. However, Canadian Thanksgiving actually started very differently and is not in any way based on the American holiday.
Despite the similarities, Canadian Thanksgiving has an identity all its own. Sure, Canadians eat a lot of the same food and watch a lot of football, but the origins of the holiday, as well as some of the ways it is celebrated, can be very different up north. These are seven facts that prove Canadian Thanksgiving is truly unique!
It's actually older than American Thanksgiving
That's right, Canadian Thanksgiving is actually the OG holiday, with the first reported instance of a Thanksgiving in North America was in 1578, when Martin Frobisher and his crew celebrated safely landing in Nunavut.
Even one of the other original Thanksgiving holidays, held by Samuel De Champlain in 1606, came 15 years before the first recorded American Thanksgiving.
It's not a stat holiday in 4 provincesPhoto by Clay Banks on Unsplash
While most of the country can enjoy having the holiday Monday to rest and relax (unless they're the ones making the meal), there are four provinces where Thanksgiving is not a stat holiday: Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick.
It used to be celebrated on Remembrance Day
Canadian Thanksgiving may always fall on the second Monday of October now, but starting in 1921, it was actually celebrated on November 11 (known then as Armistice Day). That was changed in 1931 to allow veterans their own day of recognition.
A regular date wasn't set until 1957Photo by Monica Sauro on Unsplash
Once Thanksgiving was moved to its own day in 1931, it was generally celebrated on the second Monday in October, although it wasn't official. It wasn't until 26 years later that Parliament officially declared that Thanksgiving would always be held that day.
It's called "Action de grâce" in Quebec
Thanksgiving has a different name in Quebec, and is also not celebrated to the same extent as it is throughout the rest of the country, due to its Anglo and Protestant origins.
It's also when Oktoberfest is happening
Along with Canadian Thanksgiving comes another big celebration: Oktoberfest! There are Oktoberfest celebrations across Canada, but the one held in Kitchener-Waterloo is by far the most famous. It's actually the second-largest Oktoberfest celebration in the world (second only to Germany)!
Jiggs' Dinner is usually served in Newfoundlanden.wikipedia.org
While Thanksgiving is not a stat holiday in Newfoundland, they do have their own specific tradition: serving a Jiggs' Dinner instead of turkey. A Jiggs' dinner is a traditional dish in the province, consisting of salt meat, cabbage, and other vegetables.
Disclaimer: Cover photo used for illustrative purposes only.