To most students at Northwestern, the second Monday in October is nothing more than a normal day of classes. To NW’s Canadian students it means a lot more.
In Canada, the second Monday in October is Thanksgiving Day. It is held earlier than Thanksgiving in the U.S., right at the end of harvest, because the Canadian Thanksgiving is a celebration thanking God for a bountiful crop.
The traditional Canadian Thanksgiving celebration is very similar to the average U.S. celebration. Sophomore AJ Gruwal grew up in Canada and shared a little bit about his typical Thanksgiving traditions.
“We have a normal sit-down dinner and pray before the meal,” Gruwal said. “My family spends the evening together. We watch movies and play games. Sometimes it’s just my immediate family, and sometimes my extended family members are there, too.”
Canadian junior Josiah Veurink also has good Thanksgiving memories.
“Being early in October, the forest is in full fall mode with many different colors,” Veurink said. “Our Thanksgiving dinner is always accompanied by a hike up one of the mountains near my home. It’s a great time to see the beauty of God’s creation and what we are being thankful for. It’s a great way to celebrate the fall and enjoy the season before it’s gone.”
U.S. students get a break from school for their Thanksgiving holiday. They have time to relax and reflect on what the holiday actually means. The Canadian students have to go to class on their Thanksgiving holiday. However, Canadian students still find ways to celebrate Thanksgiving and observe some of their traditions.
“Being in the USA, I have and will continue to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving Day, “ Veurink said. “I have a close friend who is also from Canada, and last year I visited his house to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal and some fellowship time with fellow Canadians. It will always be an important day in my life no matter where I am living.”.
Despite the efforts to observe the Canadian holiday in the U.S., some Canadian students still miss home during the holiday.
“I miss not being home for the long weekend in Canada,” Gruwal said. “Everybody else gets to go home, and it stinks that I can’t be there with my family.”
Since NW dismisses class for Thanksgiving in November, Canadian students have the opportunity to celebrate the U.S. holiday. Some choose to celebrate it; others decide to do other things.
“Even with the break, I did not celebrate American Thanksgiving,” Veurink said. “I was able to go back home and visit my family, but it was weird because I was the only person with time off. It was more about being home than it was about celebrating Thanksgiving.”