Why Thanksgiving is the nicest Canadian holiday

This year, Canadian Thanksgiving will be celebrated on Monday, October 9. Thanksgiving is always held on the second Monday in October.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is one of our very favourite Canadian holidays, and we think it could be yours, too. Why is that? It’s not just because we get to eat tables of delicious food, or because we get a day off work (although you have to admit both are pretty nice) – it’s because Thanksgiving, true to its name, is a time for giving thanks. It’s a time of transition, when the harvest season is over, a new school year has started, and Canada’s famously harsh winters are on their way. Canada geese honk in the sky on their way south, days grow shorter as darkness falls earlier, and we come together with our families to celebrate the year that is almost over. It’s a time when Canadian families come together to share what they’re thankful for, which might be a good harvest, or a happy family. It’s a time when Canadians can mentally put the past year behind them and look ahead to the coming winter.

This painting is by Dutch-Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder, dating from the mid-1500s.

A long history

Thanksgiving is one of the very oldest Canadian holidays, having been celebrated since 1578, when the explorer Sir Martin Frobisher celebrated with some of the first Europeans on the continent. And of course, holidays that give thanks are nothing new, as most of the nations of the world have their own harvest or fall festivals (such as the Mid-Autumn festival in China, or Sukkot in the Jewish faith).

We all share Thanksgiving

Marking the end of harvest and preparing for the winter ahead are two sentiments that have been shared across the world since mankind first planted its food. Very few emotions erase borders and bring people together like thanks, which is why Thanksgiving is a universal holiday. Thanksgiving doesn’t discriminate according to gender or religion – Thanksgiving is for everyone.

How we celebrate

While all Canadian families will have their own traditions to mark Thanksgiving, one thing most have in common is a turkey dinner. The classic turkey dinner will usually consist of a whole roasted turkey, stuffing, brussels sprouts or other greens, cranberry sauce, turkey gravy, potatoes, and assorted side dishes, often reflecting that family’s history or culture (such as cabbage rolls among Ukrainian Canadians), and pumpkin or apple pie for dessert. In fact, whole roasted turkey, pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce are so much a part of Thanksgiving that they are rarely eaten at any other time of the year. Here’s how the meal looks:

Table image courtesy of Bon Appetit

It doesn’t matter if your family doesn’t celebrate around a turkey, however – the most important part of the Thanksgiving holiday is to be close to your loved ones and give thanks for the good fortune in your lives. So feel free to make your own Thanksgiving traditions – take a hike in the mountains, eat your favourite foods, or get together with friends – just remember to take a moment to reflect on the good fortune in your life.