25 Canadian Thanksgiving Facts You Probably Never Knew

Posted by , Updated on March 24, 2024

Just as the United States does, Canada also celebrates Thanksgiving. This holiday provides an opportunity for families and friends to gather around food-laden tables and give thanks. Many times, we forget to appreciate our blessings as we navigate through our problems and anxieties. Canadian Thanksgiving traditionally commemorated a plentiful harvest, but today, it centers around spending quality time with loved ones. Notwithstanding the fact that both nations celebrate this holiday, there are significant differences in their celebrations. Curious about what those might be? Take a look at these 25 Surprising Facts About Canadian Thanksgiving You Might Not Know.


Canadian Thanksgiving is held on the second Monday in October, making it coincide with Columbus Day.

canadaSource: https://globalnews.ca/news/164295/canadian-thanksgiving-facts-and-trivia/

Not all Canadians get the day off for the holiday. For instance, Atlantic Canada considers it an optional holiday.

atlantic canadaSource: https://www.bustle.com/articles/124804-8-ways-canadian-thanksgiving-is-different-from-american-thanksgiving

In Quebec, they call the holiday "Action de Grâce" and don't really put it too high on the priority list. Meaning, they don't really celebrate it much.

pumpkinsSource: https://www.bustle.com/articles/124804-8-ways-canadian-thanksgiving-is-different-from-american-thanksgiving

Cranberries are a big part of any Thanksgiving meal, be it American or Canadian, and we have the Algonquin natives to thank for it. They were the first to harvest wild cranberries and use them for food and medicine.

berriesSource: http://qa.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/All-Star-Foods/Fruits/Article-Viewer/Article/205/health-benefits-of-cranberries

Naturally, cranberry's popularity leads to high production rates for cranberry farmers. In 2017 alone, Canada produced 125,000 metric tons.

cranberrySource: https://www.statista.com/statistics/448240/volume-of-fresh-cranberries-produced-in-canada/

The tradition of breaking the wishbone is also practiced during Canadian Thanksgiving. It actually goes all the way back to the Etruscans in 322 BCE. The Romans brought it to England who eventually brought it to Canada.

wishboneSource: http://mentalfloss.com/article/31579/why-do-we-wish-turkeys-wishbone

It's often associated with the explorer Martin Frobisher when he and his team gave thanks in a formal ceremony after a difficult voyage in 1578.

martin forbisherSource: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/thanksgiving-day/

Since the pilgrims didn't land on Plymouth, Massachusetts, until 1620, Canadians technically were celebrating a form of Thanksgiving 40 years before the Americans.

first thanksgivingSource: http://www.womensforum.com/10-fun-facts-about-canadian-thanksgiving-a-other-canadian-things.html

Of course, Canadian Thanksgiving wasn't an official holiday until Parliament made a declaration in 1879. They then moved it to the third Monday of October and then finally the second Monday of October in 1957.

parliamentSource: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/thanksgiving-day/

They moved the holiday because after the World Wars, it conflicted with Remembrance Day.

remembrance daySource: https://www.kidzworld.com/article/2614-canadian-thanksgiving

While turkey is also a Canadian Thanksgiving staple, a new, popular centerpiece for the meal is "Turducken," or a chicken stuffed into a duck, stuffed into a turkey.

TurduckenSource: https://www.cnbc.com/id/40355274

Of course, turkey and cranberry sauce weren't on the original Thanksgiving table, but you might be surprised to learn pumpkin pie was. There are pumpkin pie recipes that date back to the 1650's.

pumpkin pieSource: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/08/first-thanksgiving-recipe_n_4234678.html

In 2017, Canadians consumed 153.1 million kg (337 million lbs) of turkey. At Thanksgiving, 2.2 million turkeys were purchased, making up 31% of all whole turkeys sold that year.

thanksgivingSource: https://www.turkeyfarmersofcanada.ca/industry-information/industry-statistics/

Black Friday and big retail shopping isn't a big of a deal after Canadian Thanksgiving, like it is in the United States. Their big shopping day comes after Christmas.

black fridaySource: https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/11/16/black-friday-canada-date_n_8548396.html, https://www.bustle.com/articles/124804-8-ways-canadian-thanksgiving-is-different-from-american-thanksgiving

With the leaves changing and the temperate weather, an annual Canadian Thanksgiving tradition for many families is taking long walks through the countryside.

autumnSource: https://www.bustle.com/articles/124804-8-ways-canadian-thanksgiving-is-different-from-american-thanksgiving

Since their Thanksgiving is almost two months earlier than the United States, Canadians get to put up their Christmas decorations way earlier.


While Thanksgiving lands on a Monday, many Canadian families will opt instead to have their Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday.

thanksgivingSource: https://globalnews.ca/news/164295/canadian-thanksgiving-facts-and-trivia/

Like the United States, a popular symbol for Thanksgiving in Canada is the cornucopia, which also means, "Horn of Plenty" in Latin.

cornucopiaSource: https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/canada/thanksgiving-day

As in the US, Canadian Thanksgiving was originally celebrated as a day to grateful for an abundant harvest.


Canadians also love to watch football and watch the "Thanksgiving Day Classic," a game played in their own football league.

Canadian_football_positionsSource: https://thelachatupdate.com/2015/10/12/fun-facts-about-canadian-thanksgiving/

While American Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year, Canadians don't typically travel half-way across the country to see family for their Thanksgiving.

road tripSource: https://www.diffen.com/difference/Thanksgiving_in_America_vs_Thanksgiving_in_Canada

During the American Revolution, some Americans loyal to England traveled to Canada and brought many of their own Thanksgiving customs, making both modern traditions very similar.

revolutionary warSource: http://www.womensforum.com/10-fun-facts-about-canadian-thanksgiving-a-other-canadian-things.html

Canadians will often bake their sweet potatoes or mash them into a puree rather than adding sugar, butter, and topping them with marshmallows.

sweet potato pureeSource: https://www.diffen.com/difference/Thanksgiving_in_America_vs_Thanksgiving_in_Canada

Canadians have Thanksgiving parades, too, but they're much smaller and more at the local level. The only major televised parade is the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest parade.

thanksgiving paradeSource: https://www.diffen.com/difference/Thanksgiving_in_America_vs_Thanksgiving_in_Canada

Like Americans, Canadians feast on all sorts of delicious food until they're so full they collapse on the couch and take a long nap.

napSource: http://www.womensforum.com/10-fun-facts-about-canadian-thanksgiving-a-other-canadian-things.html

Photo: Featured Image - Shutterstock, 1. marianne muegenburg cothern, nap, CC BY 2.0, 2. S Pakhrin, Silver Spring Thanksgiving Parade 2010, CC BY 2.0, 3. Maggie, Sweet Potato Puree with Pecan Streusel, CC BY 2.0, 4. Goodfreephotos.com (Public Domain), 5. Pexels.com (Public Domain), 6. D'Arcy Norman from Calgary, Canada, Canadian football positions, CC BY 2.0 , 7. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 8. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 9. Ben Franske, TraditionalThanksgiving, CC BY-SA 4.0 , 10. NJR ZA, Jeffreys Bay-Christmas House-001, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 11. MaxPixel.net (Public Domain), 12. Diariocritico de Venezuela, US-ECONOMY-BLACK FRIDAY, CC BY 2.0, 13. Publicdomainpictures.net (Public Domain), 14. Ann Larie Valentine, Slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream, CC BY-SA 2.0 , 15. Christopher "Pacula" Corkum, Turducken quartered cross-section, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 16. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 17. No machine-readable author provided. Arctic.gnome assumed (based on copyright claims)., Parliament-Ottawa, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 18. WikipediaCommons.com (Public Domain), 19. WikipediaCommons.com (Public Domain), 20. Clyde Robinson, Wishbone, CC BY 2.0, 21. Flickr.com (Public Domain), 22. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 23. Lars Plougmann from United Kingdom, Shopping for pumpkins in Ottawa, CC BY-SA 2.0 , 24. Opus Penguin, Canada - Atlantic Canada (with labels) - Jeopardy, CC BY 2.0, 25. WikipediaCommons.com (Public Domain)