Holidays in the United States Versus Canada

A holiday is a period set aside for public celebration or official activity on which ordinarily normal activities, particularly work or school including religious education, are either suspended or totally reduced. Generally, holidays are meant to let people celebrate an occasion or celebration of some cultural or ethnic importance. Holidays have become an integral part of our lives and no one misses them. Holidays make people forget about the rest of the year and go back to spend quality time with family and friends.


The history of holiday celebrations dates back to the earliest anniversaries in the 7th century BC, when the Celts celebrated the end of the summer by eating grass cakes and wild boar meat called stag. In ancient Egypt, winters were lengthened by the ritual of feasting and it was reckoned upon by the gods that an occasion must be celebrated with the help of a plentiful supply of food. In the Roman calendar, a festival for Tiberias began at the beginning of August, the time when the sun crossed the skies for the first time. This was also the time of the harvest and the rich celebrated their harvest by feasting and drinking. Holidays were therefore not only observed as a time for relaxation or rest but were also associated with joy, victory and good health.

In the early part of the 20th century, with the coming of mass tourism and commercialization, the timing and duration of the holidays changed. Nowadays, many countries observe different types of holiday based on different seasons such as summer holidays, Christmas holidays, New Year holidays, spring holidays and so on. Even in the western world, there are several holidays celebrated at different times like the ones associated with the Chinese New Year, St. Valentine’s Day, Easter, thanksgiving and so on. With the onset of the industrial revolution and modernization, the days of Holidays also changed. There was less emphasis on observing Holidays because of the advancement of the economies.

In fact, Holidays in the United States and Canada have become quite similar to the practice we follow in the UK. The federal government in the US has mandated certain holidays to be observed on each of the 4 corners of the country; the largest being Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. In most countries, federal holidays are celebrated with much pomp and show. The main reason behind this is to encourage federal workers to take a break and enjoy themselves while the country is working. In some instances, the government also provides concession towards overtime and holiday pay for federal employees who work on special holidays.

Federal holidays in the US are mostly well-attended with huge parades during which people fly in from all around the country. On the other hand, in Canada, the Christmas and other religious festivals are celebrated with much less fanfare and are more family oriented. Hence, Canadian holiday pay is higher than American holiday pay.

In short, both federal holidays and Canadian Thanksgiving Day fall on the same day and are observed throughout the country. But unlike the US, Canada celebrates both of them at the same time of the year. Thus, one should take the occasion into account and choose the best deal for the holiday.