Celebrating Thanksgiving in Vancouver

You may already have heard about Thanksgiving celebrations in the USA, but did you know that Canadians also celebrate their own Thanksgiving? It is celebrated almost two months before the US version, on the second Monday of October, so this year it will be right in the middle of the FSC general assembly, on Monday, 9 October.

Here is an overview of what the celebration looks like and how you can celebrate it.

Thanksgiving in Canada: Where does it come from?

The first celebration of Thanksgiving in North America was actually held in Canada by the English explorer Martin Frobisher and his men as they searched for the Northwest Passage. Their trip was plagued with such severe weather and ice that when they reunited, they held the first ceremonial Thanksgiving to thank God for their “strange and miraculous deliverance”. Canadian Thanksgiving is also partly linked to European and First Nations harvest festivals.

It was officially declared a Canadian national holiday in 1879 and Parliament fixed the date as the second Monday of October in 1957.

How do Canadians traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving?

Canadians usually celebrate Thanksgiving by organizing a traditional meal at home with their families – usually on Sunday or Monday. Roast turkey with stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, various autumn vegetables – such as squash and Brussel sprouts – and pumpkin pie are usually part of the menu.

Watching football is another key Thanksgiving tradition: the Canadian Football League plays two games in succession on that day, and the games are broadcast nationally. This sporting event is called the ‘Thanksgiving Day Classic’.

How can you celebrate Thanksgiving in Vancouver?

Many Vancouver restaurants propose Thanksgiving Meal Deals to celebrate. YEW Seafood + Bar, Bacchus Restaurant, and Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House propose, for instance, multiple-course Thanksgiving dinners that include various traditional Canadian dishes. White Spot also offers a budget meal including the traditional turkey.

Most of these Thanksgiving meals are served on Monday 9 October, but some restaurants also offer Thanksgiving dinners on Sunday 8 October.

What is open and what is closed on Thanksgiving in Vancouver?

If you were planning to do some shopping on that day, not to worry! Most of the shops and supermarkets are open on Thanksgiving Monday, particularly the large chain stores in the main shopping districts, such as Downtown’s Robson Street.

Public parks, such as Stanley Park, and the Top 10 Vancouver Attractions will all be open on that day.

As Thanksgiving is a public holiday, government offices will be closed on that day, as will schools, banks, libraries, and all Canada Post offices – but some post offices that are privately run may be open. Some pharmacies will also be open, but usually for reduced hours.

So, if you have plans for lunch time or after the general assembly meetings on that day, make sure that the place you intended to visit will be open.