What Is Thanksgiving? When Is It and How Do We Celebrate It?

Thanksgiving is one of the most wonderful holidays celebrated in Canada and the U.S. If you’re an international student travelling to either of these countries for the first time this fall, it’s good to know about the various holidays that exist. It’s also a time to explore new cultural traditions and participate in them! Here’s what you need to know about Thanksgiving in Canada and the U.S.

What is Thanksgiving?

If it isn’t already obvious in its title, Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks! It began as a period of giving thanks for the bountiful harvest, and while it continues to be this today, it’s also a time to celebrate everything else you’re grateful for. From family and close friends, to food and a comfortable home; it’s a time to reflect on all the wonderful things in your life.

When do we celebrate it?

While Thanksgiving is celebrated in both Canada and the U.S., despite being close neighbours, the statutory holiday isn’t celebrated on the same day. In Canada, Thanksgiving lands on the second Monday of October. Whereas American’s celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November.

Despite the fact Thanksgiving Day is officially on a Monday or Thursday, it’s common for close friends and family to gather anytime throughout the weekend. Some may even celebrate more than once!

It’s important to note Thanksgiving is a public holiday and so, schools, banks and many businesses are closed. The holiday may also affect public transit hours.

How do we celebrate it?

Since Thanksgiving is a public holiday, many people have the day off work (and school). Some workers may even choose to take an additional day off to make their long weekend an extra long weekend. Typically, people use this time to visit family (perhaps outside of the country), or to host family. One of the many reasons Canadians and Americans love Thanksgiving is because of the incredible food served. Meals contain so many delicious flavours and colours to welcome and embrace the fall season. Traditionally, foods include a roast turkey, mashed potatoes, warm gravy, squash and pumpkin. In Canada especially, you can’t forget the fresh baked butter tarts and pumpkin pie!

It’s also a popular time of year to travel! Some families travel to their cottages as it may be the final time of the year they can before the winter season. Going up north means getting a chance to see the beautiful leaves that change colours from green to a bright red, golden yellow and orange.

Black Friday tradition

Possibly the most exciting part of Thanksgiving is Black Friday! This happens to fall on the day after Thanksgiving. What first began in the U.S., many retailers significantly reduce the cost of their products to encourage individuals to begin purchasing gifts for Christmas. Canadians would often travel to the U.S. to participate in Black Friday events, so much so Canada decided to create its own Black Friday! Though it’s not as big a phenomenon in Canada as it is in the U.S., you can still catch some great deals.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Interested in studying abroad and experiencing more of the North American culture? Let us help you with your search. Create your free account here!