While Thanksgiving is still over a month away in the U.S. and worries have already been raised over pumpkin shortages for all the pies that will be baked, America’s northern neighbor will be celebrating Thanksgiving Monday. So why is Canada's Thanksgiving in October? Read on for the answer to more questions you were too embarrassed to ask about the Canadian holiday.

When did Canadians start celebrating Thanksgiving? Canada’s Parliament proclaimed a day for giving thanks for “the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed” in 1879. But the holiday has much earlier roots, with native tribes of the First Nations holding their own harvest festivals before the arrival of Europeans. Arctic explorer Martin Frobisher gave thanks in 1587 for his crew’s survival and successful journey through the Northwest Passage, and French explorer Samuel de Champlain held his own celebration in the 1600s. In the 1750s, Thanksgiving spread to Nova Scotia and in 1763 was used to mark the end of the Seven Years’ War. These early roots mean that Canada started celebrating the holiday before the U.S.

The second Monday in October was selected as the date for the holiday in 1957, leading to complaints from farmers that this gave city folk a longer weekend when weather was still suitable for working outdoors. Not everyone takes a long weekend by celebrating Thanksgiving on Monday.

How do Canadians celebrate, and what do they eat? Turkey and football are part of Thanksgiving in Canada just like in the U.S. The Canadian Football League usually holds the Thanksgiving Day Classic in Montreal over the holiday weekend.

Typical U.S. Thanksgiving menu items are paired with Canadian recipes like this one for a Canadian maple walnut cake or an air-dried-bison salad.


What else is different from the U.S. in Canada's Thanksgiving? The harvest in Canada tends to arrive earlier than in America, which is another reason for the October date and also a last push to get people outdoors.


As Canadian Thanksgiving falls on a Monday, there is no crazy shopping the day after, and many stores operate on limited hours on Thanksgiving Day. Black Friday in the U.S. remains a big day for retailers but has also led to violent and deadly stampedes as shoppers compete for bargain prices. Canada’s big shopping day falls on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas.