Monday is Canadian Thanksgiving.
It’s pretty similar to American Thanksgiving – it definitely involves a turkey – but there are a few big differences.
For one thing, it’s always held on the second Monday of October. That said, Canadians will feast on the Saturday, Sunday, or Monday of the Thanksgiving long weekend.
The Canadian holiday also has a different history and origin than the US one – and many argue it actually came first.
Here are a few things you need to know about Canadian Thanksgiving.
Canadian Thanksgiving dates back to 1578 — so it’s actually older than American Thanksgiving.
- Wikimedia Commons
The earliest Thanksgiving celebration in Canada dates back to explorer Martin Frobisher’s third voyage to Canada. He lost one of his ships along the way, so when he landed in Nunavut, he held a big celebration to give thanks for his safe passage.
Harvest season is earlier in Canada than in the US, which might be why Canadian Thanksgiving is held in early October.
Another theory for where Canadian Thanksgiving came from is the French settlers who came in the early 17th century and celebrated their harvests in New France every year.
Many places in Europe held end-of-harvest celebrations long before either the US or Canada started doing it.
Canada did copy the US a little bit…
After the American Revolution, many British loyalists fled to Canada as refugees, and brought with them a few American-style Thanksgiving traditions, like eating turkey!
Canadians leave the marshmallows out of the Thanksgiving feast.
- Flickr/Alexis Lamster
While most of the food served at Canadian Thanksgiving is the same as American Thanksgiving dinner – turkey, stuffing, potatoes, squash – Canadians don’t do the whole marshmallow-and-sweet-potato thing.
Canadian Thanksgiving involves football too.
- REUTERS/Matt Smith
The Canadian Football League always holds a nationally-televised doubleheader on the Monday afternoon called the Thanksgiving Day Classic.
(Canada also holds a “Labour Day Classic” over Labour Day weekend in September.)
There used to be some awkward religious undertones associated with Canadian Thanksgiving.
- Wikimedia Commons
Thanksgiving was originally a religious holiday in Canada.
Thanksgiving celebrations were pretty sporadic and unofficial at first, so a Protestant clergyman took it upon himself to establish some modern traditions, according to historian Peter Stevens.
But the Protestants ended up excluding the Catholics and other minorities in Canada. At one point, the government even held the holiday on a day when Catholics were meant to be fasting to make sure they couldn’t celebrate it, according to Stevens.
Canada does not do Black Friday.
- Flickr/I See Modern Britain
After stuffing their bellies full of Turkey and wine on Thanksgiving, Canadians call it a night. They don’t head to the shops to wait in Black Friday lines, because Black Friday isn’t a thing in Canada.
Instead, there’s a big discount shopping event the day after Christmas, called Boxing Day.