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A weekly show where we endeavor to answer one of your big questions. This week, Keegan T. asks, "What's the difference between American and Canadian Thanksgiving?"

All of us at Mental Floss hope you have/had a great Thanksgiving!


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Hi, I'm Craig. Gobble gobble. And this is Mental_Floss on YouTube. Today I'm going to answer Keegan T.'s big question, "What's the difference between American and Canadian Thanksgiving?" The two holidays actually celebrate totally different things, so we're going to talk about them today in honor of American Thanksgiving, which is coming up. Canadian Thanksgiving already happened, so just... Let's get started.


Canadian Thanksgiving celebrates an event that occurred about 40 years before the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts. In 1578, an Englishman named Sir Martin Frobisher arrived with his crew in Newfoundland. They were hoping to make it across the Northwest Passage and end up in the East, but they only made it to Canada, and it's said that Frobisher himself held the first ever North American Thanksgiving inspired by European harvest festivals, though the Floridians claim to have gotten to it first.

Canadians celebrate their Thanksgiving earlier than Americans do. The second Monday of October has been the official Canadian Thanksgiving since 1957. This is, coincidentally, the same day that Americans celebrate Columbus Day. Is it a coincidence? Yes.

And American Thanksgiving commemorates a Pilgrim harvest festival that occurred in 1621. Here, Thanksgiving is on the fourth Thursday of November. It also drew inspiration from European harvest festivals.

The traditional Canadian Thanksgiving meal is turkey, like it is in the States, but it's a less strictly followed tradition. Many families opt for chicken or ham or something else. Tofurkey? Chicken-ham? Jon Hamm? I don't think all Canadians are cannibals.

And Canadian Thanksgiving is largely a celebration of the harvest rather than Frobisher and his crew. This is probably why it's celebrated a little earlier. By November in Canada, the harvest is definitely over and there's snow on the ground. In the U.S. the emphasis is on the Pilgrims, not the harvest. We don't eat the Pilgrims, we just...lot of cannibalism talk today.

Even the Canadian and American pumpkin pie recipes are different. In Canada, the pie usually contains more spices like cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon...poutine, maple syrup, beaver, moose, Molson Dry. Those last few weren't true.

The traditional American pumpkin pie tastes a little sweeter. And a little bit more like freedom. And gunpowder.

And in certain parts of Canada, celebrating Thanksgiving is not a given. In some provinces, the holiday is considered optional. In the U.S., Thanksgiving is an official national holiday all over. And you better celebrate it, bub!

The two holidays aren't totally different, though. For instance, the Canadian Football League holds an annual Thanksgiving Day Classic in which two football games are held back-to-back. In the U.S., there are multiple football games on Thanksgiving as well.

And in addition to turkey, both countries' meals usually feature cranberries, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. And naps, delicious naps. for watching Mental_Floss Video, which is made with the help of all these nice turkeys. If you have a big question of your own that you'd like answered, leave it below in the comments. Americans, I hope you have a great Thanksgiving. Canadians, I hope you had a great one. I'm thankful for you. All of you. See you next week.