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Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day is a yearly Canadian holiday, held every second Monday in October. It is an opportunity for people to give thanks for a good harvest and other fortunes in the past year. Outside of Canada, it is sometimes called Canadian Thanksgiving to differentiate it from Thanksgiving in the United States, held on a different date.
See the fact file below for more information on the Marshall Plan or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Marshall Plan worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
A PUBLIC HOLIDAY
- Thanksgiving Day in Canada is a nationwide public holiday.
- Many people have a day off work. Schools and post offices are closed. Several stores and different businesses and organizations are also closed.
- Public transportation services may run to a reduced timetable or not at all.
- In New Brunswick, Thanksgiving Day is a prescribed day of rest, which means businesses must be closed.
- In Nova Scotia, they treat this day as a retail closing day when some retail businesses are not allowed to open and employees have a legal right to refuse to work.
- Thanksgiving Day in Canada is linked to the European tradition of harvest festivals, with churches decorated with cornucopias, pumpkins, corn, wheat sheaves, and other harvest bounties. British and European harvest hymns are sung on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend.
- While the actual Thanksgiving holiday is on the second Monday of October, Canadians may gather for their Thanksgiving feast on any day during the long weekend; however, Sunday is considered most common.
- There is no set way to celebrate Thanksgiving, but it normally involves a big meal with family and friends at some point over the long weekend.
- Foods traditionally served include roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweetcorn, various autumn vegetables, and pumpkin pie.
- The Thanksgiving weekend is also a common time to take a brief autumn vacation as this may be the last chance in a while for some people to use cottages or holiday homes before winter sets in.
- Other popular activities are outdoor breaks to admire the spectacular colors of the Canadian autumn, hiking, and fishing.
- Fans of the teams in the Canadian Football League may spend some of the weekend watching the Thanksgiving Day Classic matches.
- Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest holds a Thanksgiving parade with floats, civic figures in the region, local performance troupes, and marching bands. The parade is aired on CTV on tape-delay.
HISTORY OF THANKSGIVING IN CANADA
- Many people believe that the holiday is only a Canadian version of American Thanksgiving, but Canada has its own history, separate from America’s.
- The tradition of giving thanks was celebrated long before the arrival of European settlers in North America.
- The Indigenous people of the Americas held ceremonies such as feasting, prayer, dancing, and festivals to celebrate the completion and bounty of the harvest long before European explorers and settlers arrived in what is now Canada.
- Early European settlers brought with them a similar culture of harvest celebrations.
- In 1578, English explorer Martin Frobisher and his crew held Thanksgiving in what is now Nunavut to give thanks for their safe arrival after he survived the long journey in his quest to find a northern passage from Europe to Asia.
- The explorers ate a meal of salt beef, biscuits, and mushy peas and gave thanks through Communion.
- This is now accepted as the first “Canadian” Thanksgiving, 43 years before the first “American” Thanksgiving.
- On November 14, 1606, settlers of New France under Samuel de Champlain held huge feasts of thanksgiving called Ordre de Bon Temps (Order of Good Cheer) between local Mi’kmaq and the French.
- Champlain founded this to prevent the scurvy epidemic that had decimated the settlement at Île Sainte-Croix in past winters as the medical treatises recommended better nutrition (more food) and entertainment to combat scurvy.
- Despite the unique history of Canadian Thanksgiving, the current concepts of the holiday were influenced by the American neighbors.
- Foods that are linked with a “traditional” Thanksgiving, such as North American turkey, squash, and pumpkin, were introduced to residents of Halifax in the 1750s by the United Empire Loyalists.
OFFICIAL CANADIAN THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY
- Now, Canadian Thanksgiving is held annually on the second Monday of October, or at least has been since the Canadian Parliament declared it so on January 31, 1957.
- Prior to this, Thanksgiving in Canada had been held sporadically, usually co-occurring with other significant events and anniversaries.
- In 1879, Thanksgiving was officially proclaimed a national holiday to be held on November 6.
- Most Canadians embraced the change of date to October since this season better coincides with the actual completion of harvest in much of the country.
- The most recent date change to the second Monday in October was largely an outcome of the World Wars, which we officially remember each year on November 11, Remembrance Day. This was so that the two celebrations would not occur on the same weekend.
DIFFERENCES AMONG PROVINCES
- The main differences among the different provinces tend to concern the dishes that are served with the meal.
- In Newfoundland, for instance, Jiggs’ dinner is often preferred over turkey. Pumpkin pie is a common dessert nationally, but there are also regional favorites, like Nanaimo bars in British Columbia and butter tarts in Ontario.
- In Québec, the holiday is called Action de Grâce and is celebrated but usually doesn’t involve a big dinner.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AMERICAN THANKSGIVING
- Canadian Thanksgiving occurs on the second Monday in October, while American Thanksgiving is on the fourth Thursday in November.
- One reason for Canadian Thanksgiving being earlier than American Thanksgiving is that Canada is geographically further north than the US, making its harvest season arrive earlier than the American season. Since Canadian Thanksgiving is more about giving thanks for a good harvest than the arrival of pilgrims, it makes sense to celebrate the holiday in October.
- A common image seen during this time of year is a cornucopia, or horn, filled with seasonal fruit and vegetables. The cornucopia, meaning “Horn of Plenty” in Latin, was a symbol of bounty and plenty in ancient Greece. Turkeys, pumpkins, ears of corn, and large displays of food are likewise used to symbolize Thanksgiving Day.
Canadian Thanksgiving Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Canadian Thanksgiving across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Canadian Thanksgiving worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day which is a yearly Canadian holiday, held every second Monday in October. It is an opportunity for people to give thanks for a good harvest and other fortunes in the past year. Outside of Canada, it is sometimes called Canadian Thanksgiving to differentiate it from Thanksgiving in the United States, held on a different date.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Canadian Thanksgiving Facts
- Brief Essay
- Thanksgiving Season
- What to Expect
- Candian Version
- Official Holiday
- Earliest Thanksgiving
- Thanksgiving Recipes
- Count Your Blessings
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Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.