What are the differences between U.S. and Canadian Thanksgiving?


By: J. Reinoehl

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Thanksgiving is celebrated in different ways in different nations. Canada and the United States share a border, but they don't share the same Thanksgiving traditions. Take the quiz below to test your knowledge of the differences!

Who is credited with having the first Thanksgiving dinner in the United States?

In the U.S., the first Thanksgiving dinner is credited to the pilgrims who ate corn, venison, and other fall harvest items. Native Americans attended and provided some of the food. Turkey may or may not have been on the menu.


What do many Canadians believe inspired the first Canadian Thanksgiving dinner?

In the 16th century, an explorer attempted to find the Northwest Passage. Although his group failed, when they returned safely the town celebrated their safe return. This is often attributed as the first Canadian Thanksgiving.


In what month is the Canadian Thanksgiving celebrated?

The second Monday in October is the official Canadian Thanksgiving. It comes earlier than the American Thanksgiving to prevent it from interfering with other holidays, such as Christmas and Armistice Day.


On what day is the U.S. Thanksgiving celebrated, since 1941?

At first, the Americans celebrated Thanksgiving on different days in different states! It was nationally set as the last Thursday in November to show unity after the Civil War, but it was changed to the fourth Thursday in November during the 1940s, to help improve the economy by extending the Christmas shopping season.


Who was Samuel de Champlain?

Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City. As an explorer who had frequent contact with Native Americans, he is sometimes credited as the first Canadian to have a Thanksgiving dinner, at Port-Royal, Nova Scotia. He created a supper club there called The Order of Good Cheer (L'Ordre de Bon Temps) in the early 1600s that included Native Americans.


Which U.S. president set the current date for Thanksgiving?

In a year when November had five Thursdays, Franklin Roosevelt's staff informed him that a late Thanksgiving would adversely affect retail sales, so he briefly changed the date of Thanksgiving to the second-to-last Thursday in November. which caused other problems because of sports schedules and calendars that had already been printed. It did not help economically, and the debacle was called "Franksgiving."


What was the name of the Canadian explorer who was looking for the Northwest Passage and credited with participating in the first Canadian Thanksgiving?

Martin Frobisher was unsuccessful in finding the Northwest Passage on three of his attempts, and the return from one of those is when the first Canadian Thanksgiving took place. Although he failed as an explorer, he was a successful privateer and attacked Spanish and French ships for the Crown.


What traditional dessert is served in the U.S. for Thanksgiving?

Although pumpkins are native to America, the squash was probably served initially in the pumpkin shell as soup. It was only in the 19th century that pumpkin pie as we know it became a traditional Thanksgiving treat.


What is one traditional Canadian Thanksgiving dessert?

Nanaimo bars have appeared in Canadian recipe books since the 1950s. However, they quickly became a Canadian favorite and are frequently on Thanksgiving tables.


The biggest shopping holiday in the United States is called what?

The day after Thanksgiving is considered the biggest shopping day in the United States. Although it has been promoted as the biggest shopping day for years, it could only truly claim that title in 2005. Many stores began the Black Friday tradition with Thanksgiving Parades in the 1950s.


What is the biggest shopping holiday in Canada called?

It is the day after Christmas that is the biggest shopping day in Canada. Boxing Day was originally a British holiday, created to honor public servants such as postal workers.


How long is Thanksgiving weekend in the United States?

Although the Federal government only gives Thursday off in the United States, many employers also allow their employees to have Friday off, too. This creates a four-day weekend for everyone except retail employees who have to work on Friday and sometimes even on Thursday.


Which was the first country to adopt turkey as a Thanksgiving food?

The wild turkey is native to the United States and some southern countries of North America. It is thought that turkey was introduced to Canadians shortly after the American Revolution.


In which year did the Canadian Parliament pass a law creating Thanksgiving as a national holiday?

Although Parliament created a national day of thanksgiving November 6, 1879, the date was not fixed at that time. Thanksgiving was frequently moved around, but often celebrated on the third Monday in October, until the date was officially set.


Which Missouri native said: "This talk about Mr. Whittier’s seventieth birthday reminds me that my own seventieth arrived recently, that is to say, it arrived on the 30th of November, but Colonel Harvey was not able to celebrate it on that date because that date had been preempted by the President to be used as Thanksgiving Day…."

In Mark Twain's autobiography, he makes it clear that he does not believe Thanksgiving should be a holiday. His birthday fell on Thanksgiving Day in 1905.


Who was the Governor General of Canada when Thanksgiving was set as the second Monday in October?

Vincent Massey (February 20, 1887-December 30, 1967) was the first Canadian-born General Governor. He made an effort to unite the country, and one lasting result of his effort is an official day for celebrating Thanksgiving.


In Canada, in which of the following provinces is Thanksgiving a statutory holiday?

Although most provinces have adopted the federal mandate (such as Alberta), those on the Atlantic Coast have kept Thanksgiving as an optional holiday. Only federally regulated companies observe the holiday in every providence.


Which country's citizens are less inclined to serve turkey on Thanksgiving?

Because turkey is not native to Canada and does not have the same significance, Canadians are more likely to serve main course foods that are from their heritage, such as dim sum or chicken.


Which Canadian twin cities host an annual Thanksgiving Day Parade during Oktoberfest?

The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and lasts nine days. CTV televises the Thanksgiving Day Parade.


Which department store sponsors the annual U.S. Thanksgiving Day Parade, held in New York City?

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924 and originally featured employees of Macy's. Santa Claus is on the last float of the parade, and he marches into Macy's Department Store on 34th Street to officially start the holiday shopping season.


Which Canadian said: "I love Thanksgiving. In Canada, we don't really have a lot of history with Thanksgiving, and it's a holiday devoted to food, and that warms the cockles of my being."

Mackenzie Davis was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1987. She stars in the television show, Halt and Catch Fire, and has appeared in several movies such as The Martian, That Awkward Moment, and Breathe In.


Which political figure pardons a turkey each year on Thanksgiving?

U.S. President Ronald Reagan was the first president to officially pardon the turkey given to him by the National Turkey Federation in 1987. President George H. W. Bush is credited with having turned the turkey pardon into an annual tradition.


Which song, by Arlo Guthrie, is traditionally played on classic rock radio stations in the United States?

In the United States, "Alice's Restaurant" is often played on classic rock stations as a Thanksgiving Day tradition. The song talks about events in the singer's life that occurred during a Thanksgiving celebration. Adam Sandler's "The Thanksgiving Song" is another song that can be heard as a part of some radio holiday traditions.


In which country is Thanksgiving dinner primarily served on the holiday itself?

In the United States, Thanksgiving dinner is primarily served on Thanksgiving. In Canada, Thanksgiving dinner is frequently served over the weekend preceding Thanksgiving Monday.


For which British Royal was Thanksgiving celebrated upon his recovery from typhoid and his coronation?

When the Prince of Wales, soon to be King Edward VII, recovered from typhoid, Thanksgiving was celebrated on April 15, 1872, in honor of the restoration of his health. Similarly, it was celebrated August 9, 1902, in honor of his coronation.


In which year was Thanksgiving made an official, annual holiday in the United States?

Abraham Lincoln invited Americans living in the United States and around the world to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving on October 3, 1963. Thanksgiving has been celebrated in the United States every year since that time.


Which U.S. humorist said: "Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times are twelve minutes. This is not a coincidence."

Erma Bombeck ( February 21, 1927-April 22, 1996) wrote over 4,000 newspaper columns and 15 books. She also famously stated: "I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage."


In which country are special football games held on Thanksgiving?

In Canada, the Canadian football league holds two nationally televised games on Thanksgiving Monday. In the United States, the National Football League hosts three games on Thanksgiving Thursday: One at the Detroit Lions (since 1945), one at the Dallas Cowboys (since 1966), and one that varies each year (since 2006).


Who was the first American president to declare a day of Thanksgiving?

In 1789, George Washington proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving that would occur on November 26th. Other presidents continued declaring days of Thanksgiving until the time Lincoln established an annual day of Thanksgiving.


Which of the following countries were never at war with Canada and therefore not a reason a day of Thanksgiving was declared at the conclusion of the war?

China is the only nation listed that has not been in a direct conflict with Canada. Canadian days of Thanksgiving were declared April 6, 1815, at the end of the war with the United States, May 21, 1816, at the end of the war between Great Britain and France, and June 4, 1856, at the end of the Crimean War with Russia.


In which country are you most likely to eat sweet pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving?

The United States serves pumpkin pie as a dessert that is creamy and sweet. In Canada, the recipe for pumpkin pie is spicy and savory.


Which Canadian holiday was celebrated on the same day as the Canadian Thanksgiving from 1921 to 1930?

Before World War I, Thanksgiving in Canada floated around the calendar but was most frequently held in November. When the treaty was signed between Germany and the Allies on the 11th of November, it became a national holiday: Armistice Day. It was then that Thanksgiving and Armistice Day were combined in Canada, to be celebrated on the Monday of the week that contained November 11th.


What is the name given to the fun runs that some cities in the United States hold on Thanksgiving morning?

Most Turkey Trots are promoted as a way of burning off the calories from Thanksgiving dinner before you eat it. Some are only a single mile, but in the past some full marathons were run on Thanksgiving morning. The course is laid out on city streets.


In which country are you most likely to go for a hike on Thanksgiving?

Canadians spend a lot of time outside on Thanksgiving, and many go for a hike. It is colder in the United States during Thanksgiving, and most Americans prefer to stay inside and watch football.


In what American movie about Thanksgiving did a famous Canadian say, "Well, you think what you want about me. I'm not changing. I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. 'Cause I'm the real article. What you see is what you get."

Canadian-born John Candy (October 31, 1950-March 4, 1994) was probably most famous for his role in "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles." The movie is about two men trying to get home for Thanksgiving any way they can.


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