Canadian Thanksgiving:  a quiet family-oriented holiday


Since first publishing this post in 2016 comparing Canadian and American Thanksgiving, merchants have begun to adopt the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales in November in an effort to keep more of our dollars in Canada. We are now experiencing some of the sales hype even though it is a month later than our actual Canadian Thanksgiving holiday.  I am not sure that we are seeing the deep discounts our neighbours enjoy south of the border. And this year, with Covid, perhaps most of the sales will occur online.  Nevertheless, with Hallowe'en, Thanksgiving, (our own and the USA’s) and Christmas ads, it seems that fall is just one big commercial opportunity. LP

"When Canadians talk about their Thanksgiving, the word "quieter" comes up a lot. You can start to think that they see their Thanksgiving something like Christmas morning among the Whos down in Whoville, calmly sharing the true spirit of the day without all the hoopla." - Pete Wells, "For Canadians, Thanksgiving is a 'Quieter' Affair in October". (The New York Times, October 4, 2016).

Canada goose painted on leaf

Canada goose painted on maple leaf

American newspaper looks north

The food section of the New York Times recently featured an article about our Canadian Thanksgiving. It must have been a slow day for the revered paper to turn its eyes northward and ponder the significance of Thanksgiving in Canada.

The writer acknowledges a "total innocence about Canadian Thanksgiving" in the USA.

Wells does make an effort to find out why food magazines never "touched a second Thanksgiving". He blames the lack of interest on... "turkey fatigue".

When Canadian Thanksgiving is mentioned in America, (and I doubt it really is ever mentioned), the "first reaction is typically laughter". Mr. Wells admits that Americans do not pay attention to our holiday.

Is this news to anyone living north of the 49th parallel? Hardly.

The greater issue at hand

In reality, it is symptomatic of a much greater issue, one that is, from time to time, discussed among Canadians.

Most Americans know much less about their neighbours to the north than we know about them.

If you have ever visited the USA and hungrily searched for a morsel of Canadian news while you were there, you experienced that big gaping void on all the American news channels.

Not so in Canada where on any given night, we see whatever scandal is brewing, the heated debates, as well as the vagaries of the weather, and subsequent destruction south of the border to give only a few examples.

The article ends with the words of ex-pats who describe their families as "deeply, boringly Canadian". Apparently, the best thing about Canadian Thanksgiving is the different kinds of corn. Oh, and the dinner rolls.

We "wanted to get in on the fun" an American actor states as a reason Canadians have Thanksgiving dinner.

fall scene painted on leaf

fall scene painted on maple leaf

Canadians can be grateful for our quiet holiday

Today, on a holiday Monday, we can feel grateful that:

There will be no Black Friday pandemonium and riots in our Canadian cities. Of course, we won't have Macy's parade, another celebration of consumerism. Thankfully, there is no hype encouraging us to overspend on credit and take advantage of pre-Christmas sales.

You certainly won't see long line-ups of passengers with short fuses waiting to board overbooked flights. Traffic will not be heavier than usual on our highways.

This may be a generalization, but as a Canadian, there is very little of the American holiday that I feel we should emulate.

So yes, we will enjoy peaceful walks admiring the splendid fall colours, we will play boisterous board games with family or friends, maybe watch a movie before or after dinner.

Similar to our American friends, our dinner tonight (or last night for some of us) might be turkey, but it could just as well be hot dogs and french fries at a roadside stand on the way home from a blissful weekend at the cottage.

It is indeed a quieter, more subdued Thanksgiving.

And I am so thankful for that.

( Other painted leaves...see Want to Doodle...)

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