It’s Thanksgiving Day in Canada, Columbus Day in the U S. On the second Monday in October each year since 1957, our Canadian neighbors have officially celebrated their blessings and the bountiful harvest of the season. This public holiday is called Thanksgiving Day, or Jour de l’Action de grace in Quebec. For most of Canada, Thanksgiving is a statutory holiday, with the exceptions being the Atlantic provinces of Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
While the actual Thanksgiving holiday is on a Monday, Canadians might eat their traditional meal on any day of the three-day weekend, with Sunday or Monday being the most common. This autumnal tradition in Canada corresponds to European Harvest Festivals. It also corresponds to our own US Thanksgiving weekend in November with similar events including parades and football games. Canadian Thanksgiving time includes an Oktoberfest Parade and the Canadian Football League’s doubleheader known as the Thanksgiving Day Classic, all broadcast nationwide. Adding to the holiday spirit of Thanksgiving in both countries are the pumpkins, sheaves of grain, cornucopias, corn, and other harvest symbols used for decorations in businesses, homes, and churches.
Canadian celebrations of harvest had gone on for centuries with the indigenous peoples holding festivals, ceremonial dances and other practices, long before the arrival of Europeans. The more recent history of Thanksgiving in Canada can be traced back to the 1578 voyage of Martin Frobisher from England in search of the Northwest Passage. A few years later French explorers and settlers, led by Samuel de Champlain, arrived in Canada in 1604 and also held huge feasts of thanks.
Today, as on every second Monday in October, the Thanksgiving celebration of harvest time in Canada coincides with Columbus Day in the United States, which honors Christopher Columbus’ arrival here in 1492. Columbus Day is observed throughout most of the states; however, a few have chosen to rename the anniversary for historical or cultural events more closely aligned with their own region and populace; and Alaska doesn’t celebrate Columbus Day at all.
So, in conclusion, whether you are a Canadian celebrating Thanksgiving Day, or a US citizen observing Columbus Day, we hope that it’s a good time for all!